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US Supreme Court declines to block Texas abortion law

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-20

A sharply divided Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Tuesday to allow Texas to continue enforcing new abortion restrictions that opponents say have led to the closure of more than a third of the state's clinics.

The US Supreme Court declined to block a law that restricts women's access to abortions in the southern state of Texas on Tuesday.

The new law requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km) of the facility in case of complications.

A group of women and doctors from the state had asked the US Supreme Court to at least temporarily block the law's application.

The court was split 5-4, with the conservative wing in the majority. As a result, opponents say, more than a third of Texas facilities performing abortions can no longer do so.

Law ‘probably not' unconstitutional

Explaining the court's decision, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that “it would flout core principles of federalism by mandating postponement of a state law without asserting that the law is even probably unconstitutional”.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing on behalf of the dissenting justices, said that “under the status quo that existed in Texas prior to the enactment of the admitting privileges requirement, women across the state of Texas who needed abortions had a certain level of access to clinics that would provide them.

"I would maintain the status quo while the lower courts consider this difficult, sensitive and controversial legal matter," he wrote.

‘Deeply disappointed’

Despite the Supreme Court's landmark "Roe V. Wade" decision in January 1973, which legalised abortion in the US, the practice has remained a perennial source of political controversy. In recent years, a number of states have passed laws limiting it.

“While we are deeply disappointed, this isn’t over. We will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Reuters on Tuesday.

The Texas law gained national headlines in June when Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis spoke against it in the Legislature for 11 hours, gaining her a nationwide following and encouraging her to announce her campaign for Texas governor.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

Date created : 2013-11-20

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