Supreme Court ruling keeps restrictions on abortions in Texas

From The New York Times: 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned away an emergency application asking it to block a Texas law that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The decision was effectively 5 to 4 and split along ideological lines.

The effect of the ruling, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the four dissenters, was to leave 24 counties in the Rio Grande Valley without abortion clinics. “It may,” he added, “substantially reduce access to safe abortions elsewhere in Texas.”

Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote that the challengers to the law had not met a heavy procedural burden in asking the Supreme Court to alter an appeals court’s provisional decision to let the law go into effect while it considers an appeal.

“Reasonable minds can perhaps disagree about whether the court of appeals should have granted a stay in this case,” Justice Scalia wrote. “But there is no doubt that the applicants have not carried their heavy burden of showing that doing so was a clear violation of accepted legal standards — which do not include a special ‘status quo’ standard for laws affecting abortion.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy also presumably voted to reject the application and allow the law to go into effect but did not join Justice Scalia’s opinion.

Abortion rights groups and clinics said the law served no medical purpose and was forcing a third of the state’s 36 abortion clinics to stop performing the procedure, preventing some 20,000 women a year from access to safe abortions.

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