Supreme Court to hear abortion case

Written by By Matt Smith


(CNN) — The Supreme Court appeared likely on Friday to uphold a Mississippi law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Supporters of the law said a woman must always be given the option of seeking a medical abortion immediately, but abortion rights supporters said the admitting privileges requirement effectively cuts off the procedure right there.

After Thursday’s opening arguments, the justices seemed receptive to such arguments when Attorney Karen Afrasiabi of the Center for Reproductive Rights said, “If a woman does not have an opportunity to get treatment immediately, she risks irreversible harm to her health.”

A restrictive South Carolina law

Friday’s round of arguments came on a day when the justices heard an appeal in a 2012 South Carolina law also designed to limit the ability of providers to perform abortions.

By an 8-0 vote, the Supreme Court held in 2012 that a North Dakota abortion law was not constitutional because it imposed an undue burden on women seeking the procedure. But they cleared the way for similar laws in Oklahoma and North Dakota in a separate ruling.

The law in Mississippi permits abortion procedures in a clinic in Jackson, including abortions performed by doctors who have admitting privileges.

The Justice Department filed a legal brief in the case in which it defended Mississippi’s law, saying it will “maintain the integrity of the critical medical practices that are vital to abortion providers, hospital-based hospitals, and other patients alike.”

Nick Leone, a spokesman for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the admissions law is “an extreme measure that could shut down the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi.”

Only one of the state’s three abortion clinics is open for business.

Three of the justices — Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas — signaled they might be inclined to uphold the admitting privileges requirement in Mississippi.

But, they agreed to hear the case again after admitting that they missed hearing the argument.

The hearing comes ahead of the justices’ fall term.

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