The Supreme Court has blocked a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana—but only temporarily. Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted to uphold an almost identical law in Texas in 2016, joined the court's four liberal justices in voting to block the law, which would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the New York Times reports. Critics said the law would leave the state with just one doctor qualified to perform abortions, meaning all but one of Louisiana's abortion clinics would be forced to close, reports USA Today. The 5-4 decision, made just hours before the law was due to come into effect, granted a temporary stay, but the court is expected to return to the case in October. The court, short-handed after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, voted 5-3 against the Texas law in 2016.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a dissent, arguing that there is a dispute over how many doctors would be qualified to perform abortions under the law, and denying the stay would settle the question without "causing harm to the parties or the affected women," the Washington Post reports. In a statement, Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the court had "stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women." "The three clinics left in Louisiana can stay open while we ask the Supreme Court to hear our case," she said. "This should be an easy case—all that’s needed is a straightforward application of the court’s own precedent." (The court also voted Thursday to allow the execution of a Muslim inmate without an imam in the execution chamber.)