By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to block temporarily parts of a strict new Texas abortion law.
The court granted a request by women’s health providers, which had asked it to put a temporary hold on a June 9 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The groups had asked the high court to put the provisions on hold until they can file a formal petition asking the justices to take the case.
The provisions were due to take effect on July 1.
The court was divided 5-4, with conservative Anthony Kennedy joining the court's four liberals in granting the stay request.
With the court now recessed for the summer, no further action is likely until at least the fall.
At issue are two provisions of the 2013 Texas abortion law. One is a requirement that mandates clinics have certain hospital-grade facilities. The other requires that physicians have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km) of the facility.
Critics said both provisions are designed to force abortion providers to shut down.
In its decision, the appeals court had said the state intended its measures to protect women's health.
The women's groups said allowing the provision to take effect would close 10 of 19 facilities currently providing abortion services in the state.
They have contested the law in courts since it was approved, saying its provisions have no public health benefits, place an undue burden on women and have a negative impact by forcing women to seek abortions at illegal and unlicensed facilities.
The law's supporters have said it would protect women from substandard abortion facilities and raise the standard of care.
Texas, the most populous Republican-controlled U.S. state, has been at the forefront of advancing regulations restricting access to abortion.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)