THE Supreme Court yesterday let die a Guam law that would have prohibited nearly all abortions.
The court, by a 6-to-3 vote, left intact rulings that struck down the 1990 law as unconstitutional.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Byron White dissented. Yesterday's action marks the first time in 20 years the high court refused to review a major abortion dispute.
The action most likely will convince Louisiana officials not to appeal a federal appeals-court ruling last month that struck down their state law banning most abortions.
Yesterday's order was expected in light of the high court's ruling last June that reaffirmed the core holding of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision - that women have a constitutional right to abortion.
But the justices said states may raise new hurdles for women who seek to end their pregnancies. That decision upheld most provisions of a Pennsylvania law.
Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Harry Blackmun, and John Paul Stevens formed the slender majority in June. Justices Rehnquist, White and Scalia - joined by Justice Clarence Thomas - dissented from that ruling. But Justice Thomas did not join in yesterday's dissent.