Willkie Obtains Win as Supreme Court Strikes Down Abortion Law in June Medical Services Case

July 14, 2020

Willkie filed an amicus brief on behalf of New Orleans-based Women With A Vision, and other reproductive justice organizations.

On June 29, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo et al., striking down Louisiana’s Act 620, which required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. Willkie filed an amicus brief on behalf of Women With A Vision, Inc., a New Orleans reproductive justice organization founded by and for women of color, along with other reproductive justice organizations.

The Willkie amicus brief addressed the disproportionate impact that abortion restrictions such as the one at issue in June Medical have on women of color, low-income women, and other marginalized communities, who collectively seek the majority of abortions performed in Louisiana. The brief argued that denial of abortion rights, particularly in these circumstances, is a form of racial discrimination that perpetuates the long history of government control over reproductive decision-making. Using Louisiana-specific statistics, the brief laid out how people of color and other marginalized individuals in Louisiana have long experienced unequal access to reproductive healthcare and accordingly suffer from poor outcomes, and argued that Act 620 would only exacerbate these harms.

Willkie previously advanced similar arguments before the Supreme Court on behalf of a group of reproductive justice organizations in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), in which the Court invalidated an almost identical law enacted in Texas. Given this significant overlap in the statutes at issue, the decision in June Medical was highly anticipated, both on the merits and as a test of whether the change in the Court’s composition since 2016 would lead to a major shift in the Court’s approach to reproductive rights cases.

The Willkie team includes partners Wesley Powell and Michael Gottlieb and associates Devin Charles Ringger, Ciara Copell, M. Annie Houghton-Larsen, and Madeleine Tayer.