SHREVEPORT, La. -- As clients filled Hope Medical Group for Women, workers at the abortion provider were celebrating a U.S. Supreme Court victory, according to their boss.
Kathaleen Pittman's joy appeared tempered. During a Zoom news conference after the ruling, the clinic's director said, "This week we're winning the battle and that means we can stay open to fight another day. But as a provider I can tell you, we're celebrating today, but I'm still worried about our future."
The nation's high court struck down a Louisiana law that Hope Medical Group challenged, as it threatened to shut down the only abortion provider in the northern part of the state. The law required abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles in case a procedure went wrong.
Pro-life activist Chris Davis, who stood watch outside the clinic on Kings Highway, said the law was needed to protect the mother in cases of botched abortion procedures.
"That's the same type of protection that she would get if she had knee surgery or any other surgery in an off-hospital location. But now they don't get those protections. And it's all, we think, for political reasons. Because it is an abortion," Davis said.
But, Pittman insists, "Abortion is safe. It's one of the safest procedures known in the U.S., and it should be treated no differently than any other medical procedure."
Other pro-life activists joined Davis outside the clinic. They stood by driveway entrances, offering small bags of cosmetics as gifts to women going in and out of the clinic. The bags also contained information on where they can get pregnancy counseling and support to let their babies be born.
"We're just going to continue to plug away. This is not going to deter our efforts on the sidewalk," Davis said of the ruling. "We're going to continue to pray for everyone involved. Our justices, all of our lawmakers, and every woman that walks in and out of this facility and her child."
Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by pro-life Republican President George W. Bush, was the deciding vote to overturn the law. He joined with the liberal wing of the high court in the majority. That law was written by a Democrat in the Louisiana legislature, Katrina Jackson of Monroe.
Jackson put out a statement, saying in part, "The Supreme Court has issued a tragic decision that continues its practice of putting the interests of for-profit abortion businesses ahead of the health and safety of women."
Another Democrat who supported the law, former state senator John Milkovich of Keithville, said, "We have judges who turn the Constitution upside down to say that it's okay to kill babies. That babies have no due process right to life. But it's okay for adults take their lives to avoid inconvenience."
Pittman said the newly overturned law was one of 89 abortion restrictions on the books in Louisiana -- the most of any state -- all of them passed in the last decade.
She said another one they're currently fighting is a 72-hour delay for women getting abortions, instead of the current 24 hours.