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Louisiana officials respond to emergency abortion law challenge in Supreme Court

[JURIST] Louisiana officials filed a response [text, PDF] Wednesday in the US Supreme Court [official website] defending a law regulating abortion just days after the court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in another major abortion case from Texas. Clinics on the opposing side filed a reply [text, PDF] the following day. Several clinics in the state filed an application [JURIST report] with the Supreme Court last week, arguing that the Louisiana law, which requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital and surgical upgrades to abortion centers, would create an undue burden for women. They say that all except one abortion clinic in the state will be forced to shut down, and that last clinic cannot meet the demands of the entire state. It also argues that the law creates unreasonable delays for women who need abortions and does not further valid state interests. On the other hand, the state claims that the opposing side has misrepresented the facts and lower court proceedings.

On Wednesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning a Texas law that is almost identical to the Louisiana law. Throughout his argument, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller [official website] faced ardent questioning by the three female justices, along with Justice Stephen Breyer, giving the impression that the eight-justice bench may currently be split 4-3 against the bill, with Justice Anthony Kennedy seemingly undecided. Abortion procedures and reproductive rights issues [JURIST backgrounder] have been heated topics throughout the US. Last month the Indiana Senate released a bill [JURIST report] from committee that would ban abortions based on genetic disabilities and would also require aborted or miscarried fetuses to be cremated or interred. Also last month the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed [JURIST report] a lower court decision upholding a law that restricts use of medication abortion drugs. Just prior, Ohio's governor signed [JURIST report] a bill that would purportedly cut state-funds to Planned Parenthood by $1.3 million.

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