Federal Judge Blocks Alabama Abortion Law

Affiliate: ACLU of Alabama
June 28, 2013 12:00 am

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Law Would Have Forced Most Clinics in the State to Stop Providing Abortions

June 28, 2013

CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A federal judge has temporarily blocked an Alabama law that imposes medically unnecessary restrictions that would force most of the clinics in the state to stop providing abortions. The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Planned Parenthood Southeast.

“We’re grateful that the court stepped in to prevent politicians from taking away a woman’s ability to make this personal and private decision,” said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “We will continue to fight to ensure that these decisions can be made by a woman with her family and her doctor, not by politicians sitting in Montgomery.”

The law, which requires every physician who performs an abortion at a clinic to have staff privileges at a local hospital, is similar to a Mississippi law that was blocked by a federal district court earlier this year and to a bill recently passed by the Wisconsin legislature that has not yet been signed by the governor.

Doctors and leading medical groups, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have opposed such requirements because they are unnecessary for the provision of safe, high-quality health care, and because they prevent women from getting necessary services. Alabama law does not require doctors providing surgery at other health centers to have admitting privileges even for more complicated procedures.

“The law is part of a part of a coordinated national campaign designed to outlaw abortion, state by state,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “These laws insult women’s intelligence by claiming to be about safety, when the true intent is to shut down clinics and prevent a woman from making a real decision about her pregnancy.”

If the court had not blocked the law, it would have forced three of the state’s five abortion clinics to stop providing abortions. Doctors at these clinics are unable to obtain hospital staff privileges due to factors such as the hospital’s opposition to abortion or a requirement that physicians admit a minimum number of patients to the hospital. Because the procedure is extremely safe, it is impossible for physicians who provide abortions to meet the minimum requirement.

If the law were allowed to take effect, the only abortion clinics left in the state would be in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa. There would be no clinics that provide abortions left in any of the state’s three most populous cities – Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery.

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