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During the Reagan-Bush years, the U.S. Supreme Court tried to seize most opportunities to chip away at abortion rights. Not so lately. Last Monday the Justices refused to hear Louisiana's plea to revive its defiant 1991 law, struck down by lower courts, which would have banned most abortions and sent noncomplying doctors to prison. The action, the second such within four months, suggests that despite bitter disagreement, for now the high bench is sticking by last term's compromise words: states may restrict abortion, but not ban it or impose "undue" barriers.

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