Abortion Takes the Stage Before the US Supreme Court

A Supreme Court deeply split over abortion wrestled Wednesday with widely replicated Texas regulations that could drastically cut the number of abortion clinics in the state

Texas abortion rights advocates have focused their attention on the U.S. Supreme Court as it considers whether to strike down a state law that imposed tougher regulations on abortion clinics, severely limiting health care access to women statewide. They questioned whether abortion-rights advocates had shown the new regulations had indeed shut down many clinics and would leave women with limited options.

"When this law was passed, Gov. (Rick) Perry bragged that the law would have this effect and every medical organization to review the law has rejected", Trugilio said.

By the time the law took effect in September 2014, most women's health clinics were forced to close their doors - their officials unable to comply with tougher regulations.

The Supreme Court is debating abortion right now, and it's a really, really big deal.

The justices may not decide the high-profile case about regulation of abortion clinics in Texas until late June.

The conservative justices largely took issue with the question of whether the plaintiff could prove that Texas's restrictions directly led to the closure of clinics.

The Fifth Circuit Court had ruled favorably nearly all aspects of the law, but enforced an injunction from the law to be implemented in the state.

The state contends the Republican-backed 2013 law protects women's health.

Texas says the law is meant to raise the standard of care for abortion, not prevent the procedure entirely.

The Supreme Court has not directly addressed the issue of abortion since 2007, when the Court upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in Gonzales v. Carhart.

Questions from the high court's liberal bloc - Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - seemed to demonstrate strong skepticism of the measure, which requires an abortion doctor to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in case a woman needs emergency admission.

With strong pro-life proponent Justice Antonin Scalia missing from the bench, the last day for his seat and the bench to be adorned in the black wool crepe, and for the current Justices to sit in their current seats, the highly explosive abortion case from Texas came to the Supreme Court.

In the pivotal 5-4 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992, five liberal justices joined in a plurality opinion upholding Roe v. Wade, while finding that restrictions including parental notification and waiting periods did not place an "undue burden" on the right to obtain and abortion. In Missouri, 97 percent of counties had no abortion clinic in 2011, and 74 percent of the state's women lived in those counties. All eight justices will hear oral arguments Wednesday.

The court is considering the case in the midst of the heated campaign ahead of the November 8 US presidential election.

The abortion providers also challenged a provision, not yet in effect, that require clinics to possess hospital-grade facilities with standards for corridor width, plumbing, parking spaces, room size, the spacing of beds and many other attributes.

Alito added, "Well, there is very little specific evidence in the record in this case with respect to why any particular clinic was closed".

The key vote here, as in all abortion cases, is the moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy.