Court stops abortion doctors' requirements, denies pharmacists' appeal
WASHINGTON - The day after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major abortion ruling striking down regulations on Texas abortion clinics and doctors, it rejected an appeal to reinstate laws in Mississippi and Wisconsin that would place similar requirements on abortion doctors. It also denied an appeal of a Washington state rule requiring pharmacists to dispense Plan B or other emergency contraceptives despite their religious objections to doing so. The court June 28 refused to hear appeals from Mississippi and Wisconsin challenging lower-court rulings blocking their laws similar to the one in Texas that require abortion doctors in the two states to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Federal appeals courts in Chicago and New Orleans had previously ruled against the states. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement that the court's decision was "not surprising" after its rule on the Texas law. He had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Texas case. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said he was disappointed by the court's Texas ruling and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the ruling endangers women's lives.
U.S. Supreme Court strikes down regulations on Texas abortion clinics
WASHINGTON - In a 5-3 vote June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down restrictions on Texas abortion clinics that required them to comply with standards of ambulatory surgical centers and required their doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, challenged a 2013 state law, H.B. 2, placing the requirements on the state's abortion clinics. Opponents of the law claimed the requirements were aimed at closing abortion clinics. But the state and many pro-life advocates maintained that the law protected women's health. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious groups submitted a joint friend of the court brief in the case supporting the Texas law, which was similar to other state laws regulating abortion clinics across the country. Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the opinion, said the restrictions on the clinics "provide few if any health benefits for women, pose a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions and constitute an 'undue burden' on their constitutional right to do so." Reaction to the court's ruling was immediate. Those in favor of the regulations said the court's opinion put women at risk and those opposed to the state law called it a major victory. "The court has rejected a common-sense law protecting women from abortion facilities that put profits above patient safety," said Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for pro-life communications at the USCCB's Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.
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