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Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Texas Abortion Rules

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

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked some elements of Texas' House Bill 2, which puts new restrictions on abortion clinics in the state. Abortion providers say the rules in question, which were to go into effect July 1, would have forced as many as 10 abortion clinics to close.

That would have left Texas with as few as eight abortion clinics, mostly in big cities.

Abortion clinics are challenging the law’s requirements that they upgrade their facilities to meet the hospital-like standards of “ambulatory surgical centers.”  Plaintiffs are also challenging the requirement that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic – though that provision was only challenged in the case of two clinics in McAllen and El Paso.

A lower court mostly upheld those requirements. The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court.

Gov. Greg Abbott distributed a written statement after the ruling, saying he was confident the Supreme Court would ultimately uphold the abortion law.

“HB 2 was a constitutional exercise of Texas’ lawmaking authority that was correctly and unanimously upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Texas will continue to fight for higher-quality healthcare standards for women while protecting our most vulnerable – the unborn," Abbott said.

Today's stay of the new rules is temporary, while the Supreme Court decides whether it will hear the case. If it declines, the restrictions will be allowed to go into effect.

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