The Louisiana Department of Justice said the abortion facility at the center of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case has attempted to hide evidence of potential criminal activity. But a federal appeals court upheld a gag order that prevents law enforcement, the high court, and the public from learning the details of the alleged crimes.
According to the state’s Justice Department, Hope Medical Group for Women, an abortion facility in Shreveport, La., and a subsidiary of June Medical Services, refuses to hand over evidence of potential criminal and professional misconduct. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in March for June Medical Services v. Gee, a case brought by the abortion provider that challenges a 2014 state law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week denied the department’s request to lift a U.S. District Court judge’s blanket seal on the proceedings. The seal restricts law enforcement from disclosing information about the crimes to the public or handing it over to the state attorney general.
“I am deeply concerned about the basic health and safety of Louisiana women,” state Solicitor General Liz Murrill said. “Hope’s continued efforts to hide this information from the Supreme Court and to block reporting to proper authorities casts serious doubt on Hope and its abortion providers’ claims that it represents the interests of Louisiana women.”
June Medical Services has filed several lawsuits against Louisiana to block new legislation protecting women and their unborn babies. The other laws involve extending the waiting period for obtaining an abortion from 24 to 72 hours and requiring abortionists to obtain certification as obstetricians.
June Medical Services v. Gee is the Supreme Court’s first abortion-related case since President Donald Trump appointed a conservative majority to the bench. The outcome of the case could indicate whether the court will shift its position on abortion and begin chipping away at the precedent set by Roe v. Wade in 1973, which led to the legalization of abortion nationwide.
“This case will have lasting consequences for abortion access across the country,” Center for Reproductive Rights CEO Nancy Northup said last week.
The high court struck down a similar law in Texas three years ago. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the court decided that requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital created an “undue burden” for women seeking abortions. But the 5th Circuit ruled the Louisiana law did not “impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women” since abortionists in the state have easier access to hospitals and women do not have to drive as far to get abortions as they do in Texas.
Nearly 80 percent of Americans think abortionists should be able to transfer women experiencing complications during the procedure directly to an emergency room, according to a new survey conducted by YouGov and Americans United for Life (AUL).
Of about 1,300 U.S. adults surveyed, 43 percent identified as pro-abortion, 35 percent were pro-life, and 23 percent were neither.
“This survey highlights that Americans, regardless of their personal views on abortion, stand with us in our fight to protect a woman’s right to healthcare and emergency medical attention,” AUL President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster said.
If the Louisiana law is upheld, it could result in the closure of two of the state’s three abortion centers. One of the state’s four abortionists, who works at Hope Medical Group, already has hospital admitting privileges, according to the state.
Murrill said the Louisiana Department of Justice will seek alternative legal action to unseal details of the Hope abortion center’s alleged crimes: “All we want to do is bring additional, relevant information to the attention of law enforcement and the court.”
Without addressing the Hope case specifically, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office told The Washington Times that the state’s abortion centers have a disturbing pattern of failing to report rapes: A survey it conducted showed at least 66 abortions were performed on girls between the ages of 11 and 13 from 2013 to 2018.
“We have a legal obligation to report potentially criminal activity to law enforcement [and] licensing authorities,” Landry tweeted. “Shockingly, Hope Medical is refusing to unseal this evidence [and] permit us to carry out our legal duties.”