Supreme Court Blocks Strict Texas Abortion Limits

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The deeply divided Supreme Court blocked Texas on Monday from implementing new rules that would slash the number of abortion providers.
     Justice Anthony Kennedy split the vote for the liberal justices of the court, and there is no opinion accompanying the order granting the law’s challengers a stay.
     The law in question specifies that abortions must be performed in hospital-style surgical centers and can be performed only by doctors with admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles.
     It would shut the doors of 13 clinics next month, leaving just seven abortion providers in the state.
     Though a federal judge found the ambulatory surgical center and admitting requirements medically unjustifiable, enjoining the state from enforcing the law, the Fifth Circuit overturned that injunction earlier this month.
     “Texas’ stated purpose for enacting H.B.2 was to provide the highest quality care to women seeking abortions and to protect the health and welfare of women seeking abortions,” the ruling states. “There is no question that this is a legitimate purpose that supports regulating physicians and the facilities in which they perform abortions.”
     That decision cited an expert from the state who testified that abortions should be performed in ambulatory surgical centers “because surgical abortion involves invasive entry into the uterus, which is sterile.”
     Whole Women’s Health, which led the legal challenge to the law, vowed to appeal. Saying the state’s regulations are nonsensical.
     The Supreme Court’s stay order Monday grants Whole Women’s Health time to petition for a writ of certiorari.
     “Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically,” the order states. “In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the issuance of the judgment of this court.”
     If the high court takes up the case, it will mark the second time the law has gone before the court. In 2013, the justices issued an injunction that sent the case back to the appeals court for review.

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