US & Canada

US Supreme Court to hear challenge to Texas abortion case

The US Supreme Court Image copyright AFP
Image caption The justices will revisit an abortion case from 1992

The US Supreme Court has said it will consider a challenge to a controversial Texas abortion law.

Backed by Republicans, the law places high standards on clinics and puts new requirements on doctors that provide abortions in the state.

Proponents of the law say that it is necessary to protect women's health.

Opponents say that argument is an excuse to cover up efforts aimed at shutting abortion clinics and making the procedure harder to obtain.

The case focuses on a part of the law that has yet to go into effect requiring abortion clinics in Texas to have hospital-grade facilities - a requirement that would require costly upgrades at many providers' offices.

It also focuses on a mandate within the law already gone into effect that requires doctors have the ability to admit patients to hospitals within 30mi (50km) of their clinic.

Activists who oppose the law said there were 42 clinics in the state of Texas before the law was passed in 2013, according to Reuters.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Critics of the restrictions say they are designed to shut down abortion clinics

After the first provision of the law was enacted many were closed, leaving only 19 clinics in the state.

The activists say that if the rest of the law is implemented, only 10 clinics would remain in the country's second-largest state.

The last time the Supreme Court considered an abortion-related case was in 2007, when they ruled in favour of keeping a federal law that bans a late-term abortion procedure.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that states can regulate abortion unless it "places an undue burden on women".

The court will hear arguments in the case early next year and likely make a decision in June, four months before the US presidential election.

This June, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to grant an emergency appeal from clinics at risk of closing over the new laws, which were due to go into effect on 1 July.


Both sides of the US abortion debate

Media captionWhy one woman decided to terminate her pregnancy - and defends Planned Parenthood
Media captionJeanne Mancini organises March for Life, a major anti-abortion rally in the US

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