Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion law

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday granted a request from abortion clinics in Louisiana to block the state’s abortion law pending appeal.

The court’s action comes two days after the justices heard arguments concerning a similar law in Texas.

“The Supreme Court has stepped in to preserve women’s ability to get the constitutionally-protected health care they need,” said Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last month would have shuttered three of the four remaining abortion clinics in Louisiana. Two of those had already closed and another one faced imminent closure.The clinics asked the Supreme Court for an emergency stay.

In Friday’s order, Justice Clarence Thomas said he would have denied the application. The votes of the other justices were not disclosed.

The Louisiana measure, signed in 2014, requires doctors who provide abortion care to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The Texas law has a similar admitting privileges provision.

In court on Wednesday, the justices seemed sharply divided over the fate of the Texas law. On Friday, behind closed doors, the justices met to discuss the Texas case.