U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared divided on Wednesday in a major abortion rights case, with Chief Justice John Roberts representing the potential decisive vote on a challenge to a Louisiana law that could make it harder for women to obtain the procedure.
The court, with a 5-4 conservative majority, heard arguments in an appeal by Shreveport-based abortion provider Hope Medical Group for Women seeking to invalidate the 2014 law. The measure 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.
The liberal justices, including the court's three women, appeared skeptical toward that requirement. The conservative justices seemed more receptive.
Roberts and fellow conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked questions that suggested they - and perhaps other conservative justices - do not believe the Louisiana law is automatically doomed by a 2016 Supreme Court precedent that struck down similar admitting privileges restrictions in Texas.