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U.S. Supreme Court blocks Texas abortion law

The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked enforcement of the new Texas law imposing strict abortion regulations that have closed most abortion clinics, while a legal challenge against the law makes its way through the courts.

Six of the nine members of the high court agreed to halt enforcement of a requirement that abortion facilities meet the standards of hospital-style surgical centers. The ruling also at least temporarily exempts clinics in McAllen and El Paso from a requirement that abortion doctors obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The requirements are part of House Bill 2, the sweeping abortion measure approved last summer that has forced 75 percent of the clinics in the state to close, leaving just eight open. [Houston Chronicle]

The law was previously declared unconstitutional by a federal district court judge in late August. However, earlier this month an appeals court panel dismissed the injunction, thus forcing most of the state's abortion clinics to shut down.

The Supreme Court's order reinstating the injunction "did not elaborate on the court's reasons" for doing so, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The dissenters were Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, who opposed overturning the appeals court's ruling.