WASHINGTON —Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the Supreme Court’s liberal justices to deal a surprising setback to abortion opponents on Monday, striking down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law and reaffirming the court’s past rulings that have upheld a woman’s right to choose.
By a 5-4 vote, the court threw out a Louisiana law that would have required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. If put into effect, it was expected to result in the closing of all but one of the state’s abortion providers.
It came as no surprise that the four liberal justices opposed the law since they struck down a similar Texas law four years ago. But the chief justice, a conservative who has consistently opposed abortion rights in the past and had voted to uphold the Texas law, cast the fifth vote with them, citing precedent as his reason.