Supreme Court blocks Louisiana abortion law
The US Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a Louisiana law that critics say would limit access to abortion in the southern state.
The decision was made by a narrow majority -- 5 votes to 4 -- with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court's progressive justices to block the legislation, which would have taken effect Friday.
It was considered a test for the high court, swung to the right under President Donald Trump.
The law would require doctors at Louisiana's abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) away.
According to pro-choice advocates, that is too restrictive -- leaving only one doctor able to perform the procedure in the whole state.
But the state of Louisiana argued that due to risks of complications, it was vital to be able to transfer patients to neighboring hospitals.
That convinced an appeals court, which after years of hearings, allowed the law to finally come into force this week.
But those challenging it filed an emergency brief in the Supreme Court asking for it to block the law as they sought an appeal.
They argued that even if they were to win later, the impact of the law coming into effect would be irreversible and closed clinics would not be able to reopen.
In doing so, they highlighted a similar law in Texas that the Supreme Court in 2016 found to be unconstitutional.
The law was backed by conservative judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh -- both picked by President Donald Trump.
Two years ago, Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold the law in Texas. But with his vote on Thursday, he brought new balance to the court.