More than 200 members of Congress filed a brief in an upcoming Supreme Court abortion case out of Louisiana, arguing in favor of the state pro-life law at the heart of the legal controversy.
The group of 207 lawmakers — 168 House members and 39 senators representing 38 states — said that they "have a special interest in the correct interpretation, application, and enforcement of health and safety standards for elective abortion enacted by the People of the States they represent" and that a previous 2016 ruling by the high court on abortion clinic safety standards "created an overly subjective 'balancing' test, leading to confusion among Congress and state legislatures alike as to which laws might withstand constitutional scrutiny."
Thursday's brief asks the high court to both uphold the safety restrictions and "provide clarity regarding the bounds of the Government's ability to safeguard the lives and health of their citizens."
The lawmakers also take issue with abortion provider June Medical Services' standing to bring the case on behalf of patients in the first place. Citing a "a long history of health and safety violations," the brief argues that "not only do Louisiana abortion providers lack the kind of 'close' relationship ordinarily required for third party standing, but also that there is an inherent conflict of interest between abortion providers and their patients regarding state health and safety regulations."
The Supreme Court agreed to take up the case in question, which will be Justice Brett Kavanaugh's first abortion case, back in October and is scheduled to hear oral arguments in March. The case is about a Louisiana statute that requires abortion clinics to have "active admitting privileges" at a hospital within 30 miles of where abortions are performed.
While proponents of the law defend it as a means of protecting women's health and safety, opponents just see another effort by pro-lifers to make it hard to get an abortion. 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" and argues that only one would remain if it were to take effect.
In a statement about the brief, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said, "Innocent life must be protected at every stage, and I urge the Supreme Court to uphold this law which ensures the health and safety regulations meant to protect Louisianans from the very abortionists who don't want high standards."
"When our Supreme Court justices take up this Louisiana case, they will be deciding whether abortion clinics should be required to maintain the same standards as any other outpatient surgical clinic," Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy (R) said Thursday.
"We aren't asking abortion clinics to close down; we're demanding they protect their patients by securing admitting privileges at nearby hospitals," Kennedy's statement continues. "It's a common sense law, and we need to uphold this law which helps protect the lives of women and their unborn children."