Lower Courts Have Ruled Alabama’s Ban on An Abortion Method Unconstitutional

December 20, 2018

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama attorney general has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court ruling that a state law prohibiting physicians from performing an abortion using the dilation and evacuation (D&E) method is unconstitutional.

Today’s petition comes after a ruling earlier this year by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of abortion providers and their patients. In its August ruling, the Eleventh Circuit reached the same conclusion as every other court to consider the constitutionality of a D&E ban — courts have unanimously found that such laws are unconstitutional. 

“This law makes it a crime to provide health care that women need. Anti-abortion politicians are putting politics over health to make it impossible for a woman to get an abortion,” said Andrew Beck, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “The courts have unanimously held that these laws are unconstitutional. Alabama’s petition is nothing more than a plea for the Supreme Court to turn its back on women’s rights and health.”  

The abortion method at issue in the case is the only procedure that can be performed in Alabama abortion clinics after 15 weeks, and leading medical experts such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognize that it is the standard of care at this point in pregnancy. A nonpartisan report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine described D&E as the “superior method” of abortion after the earliest weeks of the second trimester, finding that it is extremely safe with minimal complications.

Similar bans in Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas have all been blocked when challenged in court. The ACLU is challenging a similar law in Kentucky.

In the past eight years, Alabama lawmakers have introduced 39 bills that would restrict or limit access to abortion, seven of which have passed. The ACLU has successfully challenged six separate restrictions that would have eroded abortion access in the state, including laws that would have forced all of the clinics in the state to close.

“The state’s request that the high court take up the case is part of a long-standing strategy to ban abortion in Alabama,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “The ACLU is committed to seeing this fight through to ensure that all women in Alabama can get the care they need without political interference, shame, or stigma.”

More about this case can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/west-alabama-womens-center-v-miller

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