White House calls Supreme Court decision on abortion 'unfortunate'


The White House on Monday expressed dismay over the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down a Louisiana law that would have severely restricted abortion access.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the four more liberal justices in a 5-4 decision overturning a law requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, saying the law is virtually identical to one in Texas that the court struck down in 2016, on the basis that it placed undue restrictions on access to abortions and conveyed no obvious benefit to public health. If the law had been implemented, all but one of the clinics providing abortions in Louisiana would have been forced to close.

President Trump’s two appointees to the Supreme Court, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were among the four in dissent.

The White House statement, issued by press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, was pointed but relatively restrained, considering how important the issue is to Trump’s base.

[Why ruling on abortion may damage Trump’s standing with conservatives]

“In an unfortunate ruling today, the Supreme Court devalued both the health of mothers and the lives of unborn children by gutting Louisiana’s policy that required all abortion procedures be performed by individuals with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital,” McEnany said. “States have legitimate interests in regulating any medical procedure — including abortions — to protect patient safety.

“Instead of valuing fundamental democratic principles, unelected Justices have intruded on the sovereign prerogatives of State governments by imposing their own policy preference in favor of abortion to override legitimate abortion safety regulations.”

Pro-choice activists protest during a demonstration outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. in March. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Pro-abortion-rights activists outside the Supreme Court in March. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

The Trump campaign called the court’s decision “disappointing.”

“States should have the ability to regulate medical procedures, including abortions, to protect the health and safety of their citizens,” Ali Pardo, Trump campaign deputy communications director, said in a statement. “Instead, five unelected Supreme Court Justices decided to insert their political agenda in place of democratically determined policies.”

Pardo added: “This case underscores the importance of re-electing President Trump, who has a record of appointing conservative judges, rather than Joe Biden, who will appoint radical, activist judges who will legislate from the courts.”

Trump himself has yet to express a view on the decision.

But it was the third time in two weeks that the nation’s highest court delivered a blow to the administration’s policy initiatives. Last week, the Supreme Court rejected a bid to end DACA, the Obama-era immigration program that shields so-called Dreamers from deportation, and ruled that existing federal law protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace.

“Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” Trump wondered in a tweet following the DACA ruling.

Abortion rights activists directed their scorn at Kavanaugh, who voted with the minority to uphold the Louisiana law.

During his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh told Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that he considered abortion rights to be settled law following the court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 and would respect a “long-established precedent.”

Kavanaugh’s critics were quick to note his apparent disregard for that precedent in Monday’s vote — and made sure Collins heard it.

“Collins said the reason she trusted Kavanaugh on abortion rights was because he told her Roe was ‘settled law,’” political columnist Laura Bassett tweeted. “The abortion case SCOTUS decided this morning was also ‘settled law,’ and Kavanaugh voted to overturn it. Awaiting her statement on this.”

Collins’s office did not immediately return a request for comment. The Maine Republican has yet to respond publicly to Monday’s ruling.

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