The “third-party standing” question referred to the legitimacy of abortion clinics, instead of women of the state, arguing before the Court that the law would substantially burden abortion.
Elizabeth Murrill, Louisiana’s Solicitor General arguing in favor of the law, said that “these doctors should not be able to challenge regulations intended to protect a certain class of people.”
The attorney representing June Medical Services, L.L.C., defended the rights of abortion clinics to bring “third-party” lawsuits against state laws, even if a conflict of interest might exist between the clinics’ desire to do business and the safety of women they claim to represent.
Justice Alito called the argument “amazing.”
“You think that if the plaintiff actually has interests that are directly contrary to those individuals on whose behalf the plaintiff is claiming to sue, nevertheless that plaintiff can have standing?”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg repeatedly asked why the admitting privileges requirement was relevant to women’s health, given that many women might experience abortion-related complications at home, after having visited a clinic, and thus would go to the hospital by themselves.
Questions also arose as to whether Louisiana’s law is substantially different from Texas regulations struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016 in the Hellerstedt case, with lawyers for the state arguing that the law was “justified by abundant evidence of life-threatening health and safety violations, malpractice, noncompliance with professional licensing rules, legislative testimony from post-abortive women, [and] testimony from doctors who took care of abortion providers' abandoned patients.”
In one case, Murrill said, an abortionist testified that he transferred four women to a hospital for abortion-related hemorrhaging. The same doctor also admitted in testimony that he hired a radiologist and an ophthalmologist to do abortions, she said, posing clear safety risks to women.
Jeffrey Wall, U.S. Principal Deputy Solicitor General who argued in support of Louisiana’s law on Wednesday, noted that the doctor’s testimony of transferring the four women to hospitals was proof that, while “often” complications might be experienced by women at their home and not at the clinic, they “sometimes” do occur while women are still at the clinic.
In such cases, Wall said, the best practice would be admission to a hospital—something backed up even by the abortionist’s testimony.
Abortionists “could and did” obtain admitting privileges at hospitals, she said, but did not maintain close relationships with their patients who had to litigate their own cases involving harmful effects of abortion.
(Story continues below)
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The chair of the pro-life committee of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, said on Wednesday that states “have a strong interest in regulating a procedure which is lethal to children and immensely damaging to women.”
“Women, their bodies, and their babies are immeasurably valuable,” the archbishop said in a statement. “It adds insult to injury, and speaks to the callousness of the abortion industry, that providers are seeking to overturn basic, standard protections for women seeking this life-altering procedure.”
In his statement issued after Wednesday’s oral arguments, Archbishop Naumann called on Catholics to pray for the outcome.
“The Catholic Church encourages all people of faith to pray about the outcome to this very important case,” Archbishop Naumann stated on Wednesday.
“We also ask all to pray for the women who are compelled to seek abortion: that they may find alternatives that value their health and well-being, and the lives of their precious children.”