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Supreme Court Halts Texas Abortion Restrictions

Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune
Planned Parenthood clinical assistant Nicki Bailey discusses the new abortion laws with a patient in Austin.

The U.S. Supreme Court has halted the enforcement of two provisions of Texas' new abortion law, known as House Bill 2, for now.

"Tonight, our reality in Texas was recognized by SCOTUS and they ruled on the side of Texan Women," said Amy Hagstrom Miller in a statement. Miller is the president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, which is a plaintiff in the case against the provisions. "We are so proud to have led this fight."

The provisions in question required abortion clinics in Texas to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers (essentially mini-hospitals) and required abortion doctors in El Paso and McAllen to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

A federal judge in Austin struck down those provisions just as they were set to begin being enforced on Sept. 1, calling it an unconstitutional burden on a woman's right to an abortion. That ruling was overturned by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, pending a full hearing on the state's appeal, allowing the rules to go into effect. Plaintiffs, including abortion clinic operators and the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the appeals court.

Today's order means the rules are not in effect, while the appeals process continues.

The plaintiffs argue the law would mean all but a handful of the state's abortion clinics would be forced to close. More than half of the state's clinics that provide abortions have already closed since the law was passed in 2013.

Matt Largey is the Projects Editor at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.
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