Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said, "in the courtroom today it's clear the stakes in this case are both the rights of women and the rule of law." The U.S. Supreme Court appeared divided on Wednesday as the justices weighed a major abortion rights case - a challenge to a Louisiana law that imposes restrictions on doctors that could make it harder for women to obtain the procedure, with Chief Justice John Roberts representing the potential decisive vote.
The court, with a 5-4 conservative majority, heard about an hour of arguments in an appeal by Shreveport-based abortion provider Hope Medical Group for Women seeking to invalidate the 2014 law.
Two of Louisiana's three clinics that perform abortions would be forced to close if the law is allowed to take effect, according to lawyers for the clinic.
The Louisiana law requires that doctors who perform abortions have a sometimes difficult-to-obtain arrangement called "admitting privileges" at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km) of the clinic.
Some conservative justices signaled sympathy toward Louisiana's law.
Roberts, a conservative who is considered the court's ideological center, asked questions that seemed to focus on whether he felt bound by the court's 2016 ruling when it struck down similar restrictions in Texas.