Over the summer, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed severe new restrictions on women's health choices, which carried sweeping consequences statewide. Reproductive rights proponents hoped to prevail in the courts, and scored a partial legal victory
in late October.
It didn't last. Far-right jurists on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Perry a few weeks ago, and last night, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to block implementation of the law came up one justice short
The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned away an emergency application asking it to block a Texas law that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The decision was effectively 5 to 4 and split along ideological lines. The effect of the ruling, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the four dissenters, was to leave 24 counties in the Rio Grande Valley without abortion clinics. "It may," he added, "substantially reduce access to safe abortions elsewhere in Texas."
It's worth emphasizing that this is not the final word on the subject. At issue was an emergency appeal, asking the courts to block parts of the law in the short term while the broader legal challenge continues, and that effort has now failed. That said, the case against the law will continue, and may yet reach the Supreme Court again.
Texas's measure, which includes a ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and regulations intended to close most of the state's women's health clinics, will go into effect.
That said, the news for reproductive rights supporters wasn't all bad
Voters in Albuquerque defeated a historic ballot measure that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks, dealing the anti-abortion movement a blow. Two hours after the polls closed, with nearly half of precincts reporting, local media called the race a defeat for the ban, 55 to 45, and that number held steady. About a quarter of Albuquerque's registered voters, 87,296 in total, voted in the special election, more than voted in the regular election for mayor earlier this month.
For more background on the Albuquerque story, my MSNBC colleague Irin Carmon took an in-depth look