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Hundreds of attorneys who have had abortions call on Supreme Court to rule against Louisiana pro-life law

'[M]y abortion ... allowed me to live my life according to my plans'

JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

A group of 368 legal professionals who have previously had abortions are asking the Supreme Court to strike down a Louisiana pro-life law regarding abortion clinic safety standards.

The amicus — or friend of the court — brief filed Monday was from a group that includes lawyers, law professors, retired judges, and others who want to see the court rule against Louisiana abortion clinic requirements in the case of June Medical Services v. Gee. The document's summary says that those included in it write "as attorneys — with both the professional duty and honor to advocate for the rule of law — and as people who have exercised a constitutional right" that laws like Louisiana's "would effectively legislate out of existence."

The case in question — for which the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in March — deals with a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles. Proponents of the requirement say that the measure is a safety precaution for women undergoing the procedures, while those opposed to it see it as a veiled effort to limit abortion access under the guise of health and safety. It will also be Justice Brett Kavanaugh's first abortion case since being confirmed to the high court last year.

The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the case with the Supreme Court in April, says the law was "designed to close abortion clinics throughout Louisiana," which currently has only three clinics. The group said, if the law were to take effect, it would cut the number of clinics in the state down to one.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold the Louisiana statute in September 2018, noting that it was different from a Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016 because it did not place an "undue burden" on abortion-seeking women. Monday's brief asks the court to reverse the Fifth Circuit's decision.

"Collectively and individually, [our] experiences illustrate that there is nothing less at stake here than women's 'ability to control their reproductive lives' and thus 'to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation,'" the brief summarized, quoting from the court's majority opinion in the Supreme Court's 1993 Planned Parenthood v Casey decision.

"[M]y abortion, simply and profoundly, allowed me to live my life according to my plans, to complete my law degree, and to end a relationship with someone who was not the person I wanted to marry or co-parent with. Had that choice not been available, I would not have the life I have now," one participant claims. "I would not have my husband of almost 30 years, our 26-year old daughter, or my career as a lawyer and law professor."

Another one of the participants — described in the brief as a "prominent law professor" — said, "I fear for my daughters (one lawyer and one journalist), my students (past, present and future), and countless women who I don't know personally but who I know for certain will face unwanted pregnancies in their lives—no matter how hard they try to avoid it."

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