In a 5-4 decision yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a Texas law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The law, which went into effect on October 31, immediately forced about one-third of the state’s abortion providers to stop providing services.

“We are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s failure to block this unnecessary, burdensome Texas law. It’s only purpose is to deny women access to abortion – an essential part of women’s reproductive health care,” said Katherine Spillar, Executive Vice President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Texas women deserve better.”

The Court’s decision was not on the constitutionality of the Texas law. That question will be considered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to hear arguments in January.

Last month, a federal district court struck down the Texas admitting privileges requirement, ruling that it was unconstitutional. Judge Lee Yeakel found that the provision had no rational relationship to improving patient care, treatment, or outcomes, and would place an undue burden on women seeking abortion services.

The state immediately appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which granted the state’s request to stay Judge Yeakel’s decision and allow the law to go forward pending a decision on the law’s constitutionality. Texas abortion providers then filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court to block the law.

Media Resources: Feminist Newswire, 10/29/2013; Feminist Newswire, 11/5/2013; SCOTUSblog, 11/19/2013