US top court delays litmus test on abortion

Published February 2, 2019, 11:56 AM

by Francine Ciasico

By Agence France-Presse

The conservative-leaning US Supreme Court on Friday said it has delayed what is sure to be a highly polarizing upcoming abortion rights test case.

Defenders and opponents of abortion rights protest side by side outside the Supreme Court on 18 January 2019, as a key test for abortion rights looms (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Defenders and opponents of abortion rights protest side by side outside the Supreme Court on 18 January 2019, as a key test for abortion rights looms (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

A clinic and two doctors offering abortions in ouisiana have appealed to the Supreme Court to block a law restricting access to abortion that is due to come into force next week in the conservative southern state.

The law, approved in 2014, would require doctors offering abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where they operate.

Louisiana argues that the risks of complications arising during an abortion procedure mean that patients may need to be transferred to a nearby hospital where doctors could step in.

That argument was endorsed by a state appeals court and the law was to come into effect on Monday unless challenged by the Supreme Court.

Then Justice Samuel Alito on Friday ordered an administrative delay until February 7 so justices have time to review all relevant documents.

A similar law limiting abortion access in Texas was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016.

But since Trump came to office two years ago, he has appointed two new conservative justices, tilting the balance of the court sharply to the right.

A decision not to take up the case would encourage the American right-wing and evangelical movement to step up challenges to longstanding abortion laws.

The plaintiffs in the Louisiana case argue the new law “will have disastrous consequences for women in the state,” where 10,000 women seek abortions every year.

“Louisiana’s admitting privileges requirement would leave only one physician providing abortions in the entire state and that all-but-one clinic that provides abortion care would be forced to close,” they said.

They said the Texas law, adopted in 2013, led to the closure of half of the services offering abortions in the state, before being overturned by the Supreme Court three years later.

 
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