Federal Judge Rules Alabama Abortion Law Unconstitutional
August 05, 2014, 7:00am

By Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams

Law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges “would have the striking result of closing three of Alabama’s five abortion clinics,” judge rules.

A federal court on Monday ruled that Alabama’s law requiring abortion-providing doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals is unconstitutional.

The law was originally passed in 2013 and was promptly challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have also expressed opposition to admitting privilege restrictions, charging: “There is no medical basis to require abortion providers to have local hospital admitting privileges.”

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson wrote, “A significant number of the women would be prevented from obtaining an abortion; others would be delayed in obtaining abortions, exposing them to greater risks of complications; and even the women who are able to obtain abortions would suffer significant harms in terms of time, financial cost, and invasion of privacy.”

“The evidence compellingly demonstrates that the requirement would have the striking result of closing three of Alabama’s five abortion clinics,” Thompson wrote.

Thompson also cited a history of violence against abortion clinics and providers, noting that “abortion providers and women seeking abortions in Alabama today live and work in a climate of extreme hostility to the practice of abortion.”

Reproductive rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood Southeast, which was a plaintiff in the case, cheered the ruling as a victory.

“We all want to protect patient safety—this law doesn’t do that. Politicians passed this law in order to make it impossible for women in Alabama to get abortions, plain and simple,” Planned Parenthood Southeast President/CEO Staci Fox said in a statement.

“This victory ensures that women in Alabama can make their own private healthcare decisions without the interference from politicians,” Fox stated.

As RHRealitycheck reported, Thompson’s ruling doesn’t block the law; it extends a temporary injunction, “which allows the court to solicit input from both attorneys for Planned Parenthood and the state as to what an appropriate final resolution in the case would look like.”