High Court to Consider Abortion Clinic Protest Ban

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The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider the constitutionality of a Massachusetts law barring abortion protests within 35 feet of an abortion clinic.

Pro-life advocates want the 2007 law thrown out. They say it violates their free speech rights by preventing them from talking to women entering and leaving the clinics.

Oral arguments are scheduled for October.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the Texas statehouse passed a series of abortion restrictions on Monday.

One new bill, which passed 95-34 with only four favorable Democratic votes, bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. It also requires doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and limits abortions to surgical centers.

Supporters say the bill protects women's health.

"Sadly, too often today the back-alley abortion is the abortion clinic because the standards for providers and the facilities are too lax or substandard," Reuters quoted Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, the measure's sponsor. "This bill will assure that women are given the highest standard of healthcare."

But opponents warn it could shut down 37 out of 42 abortion clinics in the state.

"If this passes, abortion would be virtually banned in the state of Texas, and many women could be forced to resort to dangerous and unsafe measures," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and daughter of the late former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, said.

The bill is on its way to the Texas Senate, but Democrats have threatened a filibuster to stop it from reaching Gov. Rick Perry's desk.

To date, eight state legislatures have banned late-term abortions after 20 weeks. Arizona took it a step further, banning abortions at 18 weeks and Arkansas at 12.

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