Abortion clinics stay open in Texas after High Court suspends legal restrictions

The US Supreme Court on Monday temporarily suspended an appeals court ruling that threatened to close down 10 of the 19 abortion clinics in Texas.

Thousands participate in the anti-abortion March for Life past the US Supreme Court building in Washington in this Jan. 22, 2015 file photo.Reuters

"The application for stay presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is granted, and the issuance of the mandate of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in case No. 14-50928 is stayed pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari," the Supreme Court said in a brief decision.

It added, "Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the issuance of the judgment of this Court."

The 5-4 vote decision came after Texas health care providers represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights asked the High Court to block the June 9 ruling of the appeals court.

The Fifth District Court of Appeals on June 19 refused to suspend its earlier ruling.

The decision of the Supreme Court is a strong indication that it will hear the full appeal, according to Reuters. If it does, the hearing and ruling would come during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Texas' HB2 requires abortion clinics to have well equipped facilities with an ambulatory surgical center and its doctors should have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The state's abortion clinics decreased from 41 in 2012 to 19 today.

"The justices have preserved Texas women's few remaining options for safe and legal abortion care for the moment. Now it's time to put a stop to these clinic shutdown laws once and for all," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

However, Lila Rose of the anti-abortion group Live Action, said with the temporary decision, "women and babies are being denied protections with the Supreme Court blocking pro-life legislation."

The High Court is also reviewing an appeal from Mississippi, which seeks to enforce an admitting privileges requirement that would result in the closure of the last abortion clinic in the state. An appeals court has blocked the state law.

Last year, the Supreme Court blocked the enforcement of the Texas law while it was on appeal in the Fifth Circuit.