US & Canada

US Supreme Court blocks Texas abortion restrictions

Protesters rally in the rotunda of the State Capitol as the state Senate meets to consider legislation restricting abortion rights in Austin, Texas, on 12 July 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The controversial law was signed by Republican Governor Rick Perry in 2013

The US Supreme Court has blocked key parts of a controversial Texas law enforcing restrictions on abortion.

The court suspended a lower appeals court ruling requiring state clinics to spend large sums of money installing hospital-level upgrades.

A lower court is still considering the overall constitutionality of the law, signed by Governor Rick Perry in 2013.

The ruling means many abortion clinics can reopen, a move that has been welcomed by abortion advocates.

"We're relieved that the court stepped in to stop this, and we hope this dangerous law is ultimately overturned completely," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Had the law stood, all but eight abortion clinics in the country's second most populous state would have been closed.

However, Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, labelled the court's decision a "short-term loss, but not necessarily a long-term loss".

Six of the nine US Supreme Court justices sided with abortion rights advocates.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Texas abortion law has sparked strong feelings

On 2 October, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans found Texas could require clinics to meet the same surgical standards as hospitals.

Texas Republicans and other conservatives have argued the law will protect women's health but critics say it is a backdoor way to outlaw abortions, which have been a constitutional right in the US since a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1973.

In August, US District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled the law was less about public safety and instead about limiting access to abortion services.

Many of the state's abortion clinics have already closed in the wake of the law, which requires doctors performing abortions to have hospital admitting privileges.

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Media captionThe abortion debate in Tennessee as midterms approach

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