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The U.S. Supreme Court Upheld a Key Part of Texas' Abortion Law, but Not without Rancor

When the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and more than a dozen health care providers took Attorney General Greg Abbott to court in September to challenge Texas' new anti-abortion law, they weren't trying to tackle the entire law. Instead, they narrowed in on a few key provisions that were supposed to take effect in October.

A key provision in the law, and one major focus of the lawsuit, is a requirement that all abortion providers must have admitting privileges at a local hospital, access that's difficult obtain if you're working at a small clinic in the middle of nowhere. According to Planned Parenthood, that provision would have forced one-third of abortion clinics in Texas to shut down. And yesterday the provision got a temporary go-ahead from a deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court.

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

On October 28, U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel struck down the admitting-privileges measure.

But the injunction and was soon lifted by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. That sent it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 yesterday that it will allow the restriction to stay in effect, forcing some clinics to close.

Justice Stephen Breyer, one of four justices who dissented against the ruling, agreed that doctors who don't have the admitting privileges would have no choice but to stop offering abortions. Breyer added that while the state denied that tens of thousands of Texas women would be stranded, "it provides no assurance that a significant number of women seeking abortions will not be affected."

The 5th Circuit Court is expected to hear oral arguments on the entire case early next year.


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