Laws Would Have Shuttered Clinics and Banned a Medically Proven Procedure

October 28, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal district court today blocked two Alabama abortion restrictions that threatened to dramatically block abortion access in the state by closing clinics and limiting the procedures doctors are able to provide. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the laws for placing significant barriers in the path of women seeking safe abortion care in the state.

The first law, SB 205, forces abortion clinics within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school to close. If enforced, it would have shuttered the only abortion clinics in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, which provide over half of the abortions in the state. The second law, SB 363, would have banned a safe and medically proven procedure for providing abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy.

“Just like the Supreme Court did back in June, today yet another court rejected politicians’ attempts to prevent a woman from getting an abortion if she needs one,” said Andrew Beck, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “People and courts all over the country are sending a loud and clear message:  Stop interfering with a woman’s personal decisions. The question now is, will politicians get the message?” 

Bans on abortion procedures similar to SB 363 have been challenged in three other states — Kansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana — and have been blocked from taking effect in all of three states.

“It’s long past time for our elected officials to stop wasting time and taxpayer money passing laws that violate women’s constitutional rights and start focusing on the needs of women and families in this state,” said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “Alabama women deserve to access their rights protected by the Constitution. And our doctors deserve to be able to provide care in clinics, not fight medically unnecessary laws in courthouses.”

In recent years, Alabama politicians have passed and courts have blocked numerous restrictions that would have obstructed access to reproductive healthcare in Alabama; the ACLU has challenged seven abortion restrictions in the past three years.

In 2013, ACLU and Planned Parenthood challenged a requirement that singled out abortion providers and required them to have staff privileges at a local hospital. After the Supreme Court struck down a similar provision in Texas, Alabama dropped its appeal of the court’s decision striking down the Alabama law. That lawsuit cost the state at least $1.7 million in legal costs.

In 2015, the state of Alabama attempted to prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in the Medicaid program. Again, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood sued and the state reinstated Planned Parenthood in the Medicaid program and agreed to pay $50,000 in legal costs.  

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

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