Challenge to Alabama Abortion Restrictions to Go to Trial
Unnecessary Restrictions Would Force All but Two Clinics in the State to Stop Providing Abortions
March 31, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A challenge to an Alabama law that singles out abortion providers for medically unnecessary restrictions will go to trial after a federal judge’s order today. The law would force all but two of the licensed women’s health centers in the state to stop offering abortion care. The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
"This law has absolutely nothing to do with protecting women’s health," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney at the ACLU. "Rather, it’s just another attempt by politicians prevent a woman from getting a safe and legal abortion, pure and simple."
The law requires abortion providers to obtain staff privileges at local hospitals. These laws are opposed by leading national medical groups, such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Even the state’s own Department of Health opposed the law and asked the legislature not to pass it. In the order issued today, the court recognized that "plaintiffs have offered substantial evidence that this regulation does almost nothing to protect women’s health."
Since passing this back door attempt to shut down women’s health centers, the Alabama legislature has become more forthright about its goals to prevent women from obtaining safe and legal abortions. The House of Representatives has already passed a bill that would directly ban most abortions as well as several other measures that make it more difficult for a woman to obtain an abortion. The Senate could vote on these measures this week.
"Government has no place interfering in the private health care decisions between a woman, her family, and her doctor," said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. "These unconstitutional laws will continue to cost the state taxpayer money. Instead of wasting precious resources on policies that hurt women, the legislature should focus on fixing the problems of Alabamians."
Similar laws have been blocked by courts in Mississippi and Wisconsin. The Alabama law is also similar to the Texas law that has forced one-third of the providers in the state to stop providing abortions, leaving large portions of the state with no provider and forcing women to travel hundreds of miles to get the care they need.