Supreme Court blocks restrictive Texas abortion-clinic rules

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Supreme Court Blocks Rules Affecting Texas Abortion Clinics

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court refused on Monday to allow Texas to enforce restrictions that would force 10 abortion clinics to close.

The justices voted 5-4 to grant an emergency appeal from the clinics after a federal appeals court upheld new regulations and refused to keep them on hold while the clinics appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court order will remain in effect at least until the court decides whether to hear the clinics' appeal of the lower court ruling, not before the fall.

The court's decision to block the regulations is a strong indication that the justices will hear the full appeal, which could be the biggest abortion case at the Supreme Court in nearly 25 years.

If the court steps in, the hearing and the eventual ruling would come amid the 2016 presidential campaign.

See supporters and protesters around the state:

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Supreme Court blocks restrictive Texas abortion-clinic rules
AUSTIN, TX - JULY 01: Supporters of Texas women's right to reproductive decisions rally at the Texas State capitol on July 1, 2013 in Austin, Texas. This is first day of a second legislative special session called by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to pass an restrictive abortion law through the Texas legislature. The first attempt was defeated after opponents of the law were able to stall the vote until after first special session had ended. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JULY 01: Supporters of Texas women's right to reproductive decisions rally at the Texas State capitol on July 1, 2013 in Austin, Texas. This is first day of a second legislative special session called by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to pass an restrictive abortion law through the Texas legislature. The first attempt was defeated after opponents of the law were able to stall the vote until after first special session had ended. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JULY 01: A pro-life supporter in the Texas State capitol on July 1, 2013 in Austin, Texas. This is first day of a second legislative special session called by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to pass an restrictive abortion law through the Texas legislature. The first attempt was defeated after opponents of the law were able to stall the vote until after first special session had ended. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JULY 01: Texas Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) leads a rally in support of Texas women's right to reproductive decisions at the Texas state capitol on July 1, 2013 in Austin, Texas. This is first day of a second legislative special session called by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to pass an restrictive abortion law through the Texas legislature. The first attempt was defeated after opponents of the law were able to stall the vote until after first special session had ended. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 25: Reproductive rights advocates fill the Texas capitol celebrating the defeat of the controversial anti-abortion bill SB5, which was up for a vote on the last day of the legislative special session June 25, 2013 in Austin, Texas. A combination of State Sen. Wendy Davis' (D-Ft. Worth) 13-hour filibuster and protests by reproductive rights advocates helped to ultimately defeat the controversial abortion legislation at midnight. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
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Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would have allowed the state to move ahead with regulations requiring abortion facilities to be constructed like surgical centers. Doctors at all clinics also would be forced to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The clinics said enforcing the new regulations would lead to a second major wave of clinic closures statewide in as many years. Texas had 41 abortion clinics in 2012; 19 remain.

Abortion Providers in Texas versus the United States | FindTheData

The regulations would have left the state with no clinic west of San Antonio. Only one would have been able to operate on a limited basis in the Rio Grande Valley.

In November 2013, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that four justices probably would want to review the constitutionality of the regulations.

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