U.S. Supreme Court declines to block Texas abortion law

WASHINGTON/DALLAS Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:24pm EST

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WASHINGTON/DALLAS (Reuters) - A split U.S. Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to block implementation of a new abortion law in Texas that already has prompted a dozen clinics in the state to stop performing the procedure.

The provision requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility in case women have complications.

The court was split 5-4, with the conservative wing of the court in the majority. The four liberal justices said they would have overturned the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals October 31 ruling that allowed the law to take effect.

Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by two of his conservative colleagues, wrote an opinion explaining the rationale in favor of leaving the appeals court decision intact.

Scalia criticized the four dissenters, saying that their suggested outcome would "flout core principles of federalism by mandating postponement of a state law without asserting that the law is even probably unconstitutional."

Writing for the four dissenters, Justice Stephen Breyer said he would have favored blocking the law to "maintain the status quo" while the lower courts handled "this difficult, sensitive and controversial legal matter."

Abortion rights groups and clinics that provide abortions are challenging the sweeping anti-abortion law, passed in July by the Republican-led Texas Legislature, that also requires abortion clinics to meet heightened building standards, bans abortion after 20 weeks and requires strict adherence to federal guidelines in prescribing abortion pills.

"These are commonsense - and perfectly constitutional - regulations that further the state's interest in protecting the health and safety of Texas women," Texas Attorney General Gregory Abbott said in a statement.

The Supreme Court stay application only related to the admitting privileges portion of the law. On November 1, hours after the Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing the law to take effect, a dozen facilities throughout Texas stopped offering abortions and turned away women who were seeking the procedure.

"While we are deeply disappointed, this isn't over. We will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women," said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The law gained national headlines when Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis spoke against it in the Legislature for several hours, gaining her a nationwide following and encouraging her to announce her campaign for Texas governor.

The appeals court decision had reversed a lower court ruling that halted the provision on admitting privileges before the law was due to go into effect.

The 5th Circuit appeals court has not ruled on the merits of the challenge. It is due to hear oral arguments early next year.

(Editing by Howard Goller, Philip Barbara and Mohammad Zargham)

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Comments (2)
HaroldAMaio wrote:
I recall being taught in high school that the supreme court had the final say.

Much later I learned it was a political body to which presidents fought for appointments for the political clout those appointments might make.

Nov 19, 2013 8:14pm EST  --  Report as abuse
metingun2 wrote:
Various different societies , some of us willingly to abort and kill our own offspring – own flesh and blood – as Homo Sapiens and no matter what the circumstance and the reasoning behind doing that initial unfortunate act of real self destruction ; is not normal evolutionary vise ; simply because the pregnant women are NOT designed to do so and those forced to end their own pregnancy are `traumatized` for life emotionally one way or other . Women who decides to abort and kill their own child are already “traumatized” emotionally and physically that is for sure as clearly stated above , they are already desperate and fearfull with their decision “somehow socially they are forced to take , which is mostly and frequently related one way or other with the significant other male partner “ simply because the pregnancy is solely the end result of male participation in the act of sex . So `at least the minimum` the physical protection of this already traumatized pregnant woman from `further harm` by the `shoddy and inadequate ` abortion providers with obvious increased risk to her life is prudent approach , no matter what your political background is . And the US Supreme Court`s recent collective wisdom and recent ruling on Texas State Law “is correct in this one” without any doubt ..

Nov 20, 2013 1:01am EST  --  Report as abuse
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