Judge blocks Alabama abortion ban


A federal judge has temporarily barred Alabama’s near total abortion ban from taking effect.

In an Oct. 29 decision, Myron H. Thompson, District Court Judge for the Middle District of Alabama, North Division, wrote the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in proving that Alabama’s law violates a woman’s constitutional right to obtain a per-viability abortion, and that enforcement of the law will cause irreparable harm to Alabama women. Judge Thompson halted the measure, which was scheduled to take effect on Nov. 15, while the lawsuit continues through the courts.

“As stated previously, banning abortion before viability violates Supreme Court precedent,” Judge Thompson wrote in the opinion. “No alleged state interest can overcome this clear mandate. Thus, as a ban on pre-viability abortion, the act contravenes established law.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the “Human Life Protection Act” into law on May 15. The measure bans abortion at every pregnancy stage and penalizes physicians with a Class A felony for performing an abortion and charges them with a Class C felony for attempting to perform an abortion. The law includes an exception if a woman’s life is at risk, but not for cases of rape or incest.

The federal court’s decision affirms that women have a right to access safe, legal abortion, Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, The American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Alabama are representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which include Alabama physicians and patients.

“Politicians in Alabama, and across the country, are putting people’s health and lives at risk in their attempts to ban abortion outright in this country,” Ms. Johnson said in the statement. “Today’s victory means people can still access the health care they need across Alabama – for now. We will continue to fight to ensure that everyone can access health care – including safe, legal abortion.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the district court’s decision to temporarily halt the law was not unexpected.

“As we have stated before, the state’s objective is to advance our case to the U.S. Supreme Court where we intend to submit evidence that supports our argument that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided and that the Constitution does not prohibit states from protecting unborn children from abortion,” Mr. Marshall said in a statement.

The Alabama decision comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an abortion-related challenge out of Louisiana. June Medical Services v. Gee centers on the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that requires any doctor performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The high court likely will hear that case in early 2020.

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