|RICHMOND (December 3, 2019) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending the right of women across the country to access reproductive healthcare and safe, legal abortions. Attorney General Herring has joined 22 fellow attorneys general in an amicus brief in June Medical Services v. Gee urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an onerous, medically unnecessary Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to maintain admitting privileges at a local hospital.
“Laws like Louisiana’s are simply ideologically-driven attempts to limit women’s access to the full range of reproductive healthcare services, including abortions,” said Attorney General Herring. “Overly burdensome restrictions on abortion access are not only illegal but they can also be dangerous and force women to seek out unsafe, unregulated abortions. Women deserve the right to make their own choices about their reproductive health without their government stepping in unnecessarily.”
In 2014, Louisiana passed a law that requires abortion providers to maintain admitting privileges at local hospitals. If the law were enforced, Louisiana would be left with, at most, two physicians who could provide abortion services in the entire state, despite the fact that roughly 10,000 women obtain abortions in Louisiana each year. Louisiana’s admitting-privileges requirement is identical to the Texas statute that was invalidated and found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granted a permanent injunction against the Louisiana law, but, in 2018, the Fifth Circuit reversed that decision. June Medical Services and two physicians appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which granted an emergency application to stay the law from taking effect pending the outcome of the appeal.
Attorney General Herring and his colleagues filed the amicus brief because states have an interest in ensuring the availability of safe, medically sound abortion services and in protecting the health and safety of women seeking abortion services, as well as defending the long-recognized, substantive due process right to choose to terminate a pregnancy and the undue-burden standard that governs review of regulations implicating that right. In the brief, the attorneys general argue that Louisiana’s law is an unnecessary and onerous burden that fails to promote women’s health and will end up further limiting the number of abortion providers available to women in Louisiana.
Attorney General Herring has been a strong advocate for women’s healthcare and reproductive rights in Virginia. He has stood against attacks on women’s reproductive freedom, and has fought in court to defend women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services including abortion and birth control. He issued an official advisory opinion that helped protect women’s health clinics from expensive and medically unnecessary retrofits that would have closed many Virginia clinics that offer abortion services. Attorney General Herring successfully fought alongside his colleagues in the Whole Women’s Health case to strike down Texas’s onerous, medically unnecessary regulations and he has fought for women’s reproductive justice around the country, working with colleagues to oppose medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion in Ohio and Alabama. Additionally, he has continuously fought against the Trump Administration’s attacks on women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care services and contraception options.
Attorney General Herring joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia in filing the amicus brief.