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Supreme Court Places A Stay On Abortion Law In Texas

The Supreme Court has placed a stay on a lower court's ruling that upheld new abortion standards in Texas, to give opponents of a controversial 2013 law time to take their case to the nation's highest court.

The stay is temporary: If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, the stay will be lifted and the law will take effect. If the justices agree to hear the case, the stay would remain in effect until a ruling is issued.

The Texas law requires "nearly all Texas facilities that perform abortions to operate like hospital-style surgical centers," as NPR's Jennifer Ludden reported earlier this month.

The law also requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

About half of Texas' 40 clinics have shut down since the law was approved, Jennifer said. She added that if another dozen clinics close, nearly a million women would be at least 150 miles from the nearest abortion provider.

"The Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, and Justice Alito would deny the application," according to the Supreme Court's order about the case, Whole Woman's Health, et al. v. Cole, Comm'r, TX DHS, et al.

The Supreme Court had previously ruled that Texas clinics that provide abortions could remain open while the case is litigated — but that ruling elapsed when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the restrictions in early June.

Arguments over the case will likely turn on whether the state has imposed an "undue burden" on abortion providers.

As NPR's Wade Goodwyn has reported:

"In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that while the individual states could impose restrictions on abortion, they could not pass laws that posed an undue burden on a woman's access to an abortion.

"But that left an important question, what constitutes an undue burden?"

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