Abortion appeals awaiting Supreme Court action

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A new abortion clinic is quietly being built by Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights, Illinois, just 12 miles across the Mississippi River east of St. Louis, as Missouri women concerned about the uncertain future of a St. Louis clinic flock across the state line. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Both sides of the abortion debate are waiting to see if the Supreme Court adds new disputes over state abortion regulations to its election-year docket.

The court is expected Friday to announce new cases it will consider in the term that begins next week.

The justices met in private earlier this week to discuss the hundreds of appeals that piled up over the summer. In recent years, they have announced new cases they’ve accepted for full review in advance of the term’s start on the first Monday in October.

The most significant of those pending appeals are cases involving abortion regulations in Louisiana and Indiana.

The Louisiana case involves a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The law could leave the state with just one abortion clinic.

The high court in February indicated it would take a thorough look at the case when Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court’s four liberal justices to block the law, at least temporarily. The Louisiana law is virtually identical to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016, when Justice Anthony Kennedy was on the bench and before President Donald Trump’s two high-court picks, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined and shifted the court to the right.

The Indiana mandate would force women to undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours before having an abortion, replacing a requirement that did not specify when the examination must take place. An appeals court found that new law would impose lengthy travel and additional expenses on some women.

A third abortion-related appeal involves a challenge to a Chicago ordinance that stops protesters from getting within 8 feet (2.4 meters) of people entering abortion clinics and other health care facilities without their consent.

Anti-abortion activists had challenged the Chicago law as a violation of their free speech rights. The federal appeals court in Chicago upheld the law, though grudgingly.

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