The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear its first abortion case since President Trump’s two appointees took their seats, a dispute that could mark the first step in a gradual retreat from Roe vs. Wade.
Justices will weigh Louisiana’s claim — supported by the Trump administration — that doctors and clinics have no legal standing to challenge state regulations. Experts in abortion law say a high court ruling denying legal standing to doctors could have a far-reaching impact and make it far more difficult to challenge antiabortion measures in federal court.
Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate foresee a conservative majority giving states more freedom to restrict abortion without going so far as overturning the 1973 landmark ruling. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in particular, may prefer to avoid a major shift on abortion rights in an election year, experts say, though that decision could face the court in 2021 or after as it considers a wave of new state laws that would ban some or nearly all abortions.
The Louisiana case began in 2014 when lawmakers approved a measure, patterned on a Texas law, to require all doctors who perform abortions to have “active admitting privileges” at a nearby hospital. State officials defended this as a health and safety measure. They said it would help assure that only competent and trusted physicians were performing abortions and that their patients could be quickly transferred to a hospital in an emergency.
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