Abortion appeals, including Indiana case, awaiting Supreme Court action

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 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. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law, finding it would impose lengthy travel and additional expenses on some women.

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.

A third abortion-related appeal involves a challenge to a Chicago ordinance that stops protesters from getting within 8 feet 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.

The Supreme Court upheld a similar Colorado law in 2000, but in 2014 struck down a Massachusetts provision that set a fixed 35-foot buffer zone outside abortion clinics.

On other topics, energy companies and the Trump administration is asking the court to overturn an appeals court ruling and reinstate a permit to allow construction of a natural gas pipeline through two national forests, including parts of the Appalachian Trail.

The 605-mile (970-kilometer) pipeline would begin in West Virginia and travel through parts of Virginia and North Carolina. The proposed route, which the administration had approved, would include the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, as well as a right-of-way across the Appalachian Trail.

Domino’s Pizza also wants the justices to take up its appeal of a ruling that it violated federal disability law by making it hard for blind people to place orders on its website and mobile app. The case raises the issue of whether and how the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to the internet.

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