Unnecessary Restrictions Would Force Most Clinics in the State to Stop Providing Abortions
February 7, 2014
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America appeared in court today asking a federal judge to strike down an Alabama law that would single out abortion providers for medically unnecessary restrictions and force three of the five women’s health centers in the state to stop offering abortion care.
"Women and families must be able to make personal and private decisions about a pregnancy without interference from politicians," said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. "This law endangers women by shutting down most of the health centers in the state where a woman can get a safe and legal abortion if she needs one."
Should the law stand, abortion providers would be required to obtain staff privileges at local hospitals, which are medically unnecessary and difficult to obtain by doctors providing abortion services. Leading national medical groups, such as the American Medical Association and 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. The Alabama Department of Health opposed the law and asked the legislature not to pass it.
Alabama law does not require doctors providing surgery in other outpatient settings to have admitting privileges, even for more complicated and risky procedures.
"This law is part of a nationwide plan to shut down women’s health centers and prevent a woman from making her own decision about whether to have an abortion," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "You have to ask yourself, if these laws are really about protecting a patient’s health, why do they apply only to doctors who provide abortions and not to doctors who provide medically comparable care?"
The Alabama law is based on a model bill, not from any medical organization, but from Americans United for Life (AUL). AUL has touted these measures as a way to shut down women’s health centers. It is similar to laws passed in Mississippi, North Dakota, and Wisconsin that have all been blocked by the courts, as well as a Texas law that recently went into effect and has left large swaths of the state without any abortion providers.