Since abortion clinics typically use traveling physicians, the law
could cause the closure of three of Alabama's five facilities, a
potential constitutional violation, abortion supporters have argued
In an 86-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson cited the
possibility of an "undue burden." He ruled the trial will focus on
if the law violates the constitutional rights of women who want an
abortion by imposing a "substantial obstacle."
"If the court finds that the statute was motivated by a purpose of
protecting fetal life, then the statute had the unconstitutional
purpose of creating a substantial obstacle," Thompson wrote.
"Evidence establishing that the legislature passed a statute with
the purpose of closing down the clinic would suffice to establish a
constitutional violation," he added.
A trial date has not been set.
The Alabama legislature passed the law last year and its
constitutionality was almost immediately challenged by two abortion
providers, Planned Parenthood Southeast, which operates two clinics,
and Reproductive Health Services. The American Civil Liberties Union
also joined the suit.
"If this dangerous law goes into effect, three-fifths of the
licensed health centers that provide safe, legal abortions in
Alabama would be forced to stop," said Staci Fox, CEO of Planned
Parenthood Southeast in a statement.
This week, the legislature is poised to pass more legislation
restricting abortion access.
Four laws passed by the House could be voted on in the Senate before
the legislative session ends on Thursday.
[to top of second column]
They include proposed legislation increasing the waiting period to
48 hours, requiring a mother with a non-viable fetus to consider
receiving care at a preinatal hospice, extending restrictions on
abortions for minors and prohibiting abortions when a fetal
heartbeat can be detected.
On Thursday, a Texas judge ruled in favor of a similar law requiring
doctors to have local admitting privileges.
Since Texas enacted the law, which requires a physician to have
admitting privileges at an appropriately equipped hospital within 30
miles, a third of clinics in the state have been closed, leaving 19
for a population of 26 million.
Supporters of the law in Alabama deny its intent is to force the
closure of abortion clinics.
"It really is about the health care of women," said State Senator
(Editing by Kevin Gray, Bernard Orr)
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