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Planned Parenthood asks high court's help in Texas

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Planned Parenthood asked the Supreme Court Monday to place Texas' new abortion restrictions on hold.

The group said in a filing with the high court that more than a third of the clinics in Texas have been forced to stop providing abortions since a court order allowed the new restrictions to take effect Friday.

Planned Parenthood said that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals went too far in overruling a trial judge who blocked the law's provision requiring doctors who perform abortions in clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The filing was addressed to Justice Antonin Scalia, who oversees emergency matters from Texas. Scalia has asked Texas to respond by Nov. 12, meaning that the provision will remain in effect at least until then.

The appeals court ruling came three days after U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said the provision serves no medical purpose.

The three-judge appellate panel acknowledged that the provision "may increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions." However, the panel said that the Supreme Court has held that having "the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate" a law that serves a valid purpose, "one not designed to strike at the right itself."

The three judges are appointees of President George W. Bush, as is Yeakel.

The appellate panel's ruling is temporary until it can hold a complete hearing, likely in January.

The restrictions are among the toughest in the nation and gained notoriety when Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis launched a nearly 13-hour filibuster against them in June. Davis has since launched her own gubernatorial campaign and could face Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is defending the law, in the November 2014 election. Republican Gov. Rick Perry has said he will not seek another term.

 

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