Supreme Court hearing major abortion caseNews added by Benefits Pro on March 3, 2016

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By Jack Craver

Activists and politicians on both sides of America’s never-ending debate on abortion are closely watching as the Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday over a Texas law aimed at making it more difficult to operate an abortion clinic.

The law -- known as H.B. 2 -- has been mimicked in many other GOP-run states around the country and imposes a number of regulations on abortion clinics under the guise of medical safety. Among some of the stiuplations, it requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and dictates that abortion clinics must meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

The majority of abortion clinics don't meet such standards. Many doctors who perform the procedure lack admitting privileges at local hospitals, possibly because obtaining the authorization can be trying for providers situated in areas where many of the hospitals are affiliated with anti-abortion churches.

Such contraints have been condemned by medical authorities as unnecessary, medically speaking. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists submitted a brief urging the court to strike down the law.

The law has already had its intended effect in Texas, where more than half of the state’s 41 abortion clinics have closed in the past two years because they don’t comply with the new regulations. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of H.B. 2 on Wednesday, at least 10 more clinics would shutter their doors.

The absence of the late Justice Antonin Scalia has supporters of abortion rights holding out for Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, to rule against the law. If he does, the decision will likely be 5-3 to strike down the H.B. 2. Hope that Kennedy will vote with the pro-choice side comes from the fact that he ruled with the four liberal justices to place an injunction on the law while the court reviewed the case.

If Kennedy rules to uphold the law, however, the court will likely deadlock, 4-4. In that case, the decision will leave intact the ruling of an appeals court that largely upheld the new law.

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