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Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion law

By
Darryl Coote
Advocates for both sides of the abortion issue square off at the Supreme Court during the March for Life anti-abortion rally, in Washington, D.C., on January 18. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Advocates for both sides of the abortion issue square off at the Supreme Court during the March for Life anti-abortion rally, in Washington, D.C., on January 18. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a Louisiana abortion access law that opponents said would limit the state to a single doctor who could perform the procedure.

The decision was 5-4 with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. joining the four liberals voting to stay Louisiana's Unsafe Abortion Protection Act that was enacted in 2014.

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The law required doctors to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of where the operation was being performed, a regulation Louisiana sees as necessary to provide a higher level of physician care.

The nonprofit Center for Reproductive Rights, which opposes the law, argued that if allowed to go into effect it would leave a single doctor who could provide abortions in the state.

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"If this law goes into effect, most women in Louisiana will have nowhere to go in the state to access abortion and will be forced to travel to other states," the center said in a tweet Thursday.

In 2017, the law was struck down by the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, La., but that decision was later reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans.

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With the law set to go into effect Friday, the Center for Reproductive Rights requested an emergency halt Feb. 1, which the Supreme Court agreed to, to allow for deliberations.

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court voted to keep the hold on the law while a lower court decision in favor of the law is challenged on appeal.

"The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women," Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement following the vote. "The three clinics left in Louisiana can stay open while we ask the Supreme Court to hear our case."

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