On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court of the United States temporarily blocked a crucial provision of Texas' Pro-Life House Bill 2. The ruling exempts abortion clinics from meeting the same health and safety standards required at ambulatory surgical centers.
The court also stayed a separate provision of the law only as applicable to clinics in McAllen and El Paso that requires doctors at the facilities to secure admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. This 30-mile rule remains in effect elsewhere in Texas.
Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas dissented, emphasizing that they would have ruled against the clinics in all respects while the order was unsigned by other justices.
The New Orleans-based US Fifth Circuit Appeals Court is still considering the overall constitutionality of the historic HB2. While the law was in effect, it shuttered 13 abortion clinics that were not in compliance with the new hospital-like standards. This ruling permits eight clinics to reopen while the legal battle ensues.
The ban on aborting children who can feel pain in utero, at five months development, has not been challenged in court and remains in effect as do the newer protocols for the abortion pill, RU-486 (also called medical abortions.)
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