By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, August 4, 2014 U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that a 2013 Alabama abortion law was unconstitutional. The law, commonly known as the Women’s Health and Safety Act, would have required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Three of Alabama’s five abortion clinics use traveling doctors, who would not have been able to obtain admitting privileges. Complying with that aspect of the law would have forced those three clinics to either hire in-state doctors or go out of the abortion business.
Alabama’s Pro-Life leaders expressed their disappointment with the ruling.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) issued a statement regarding U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson’s ruling on the Women’s Health and Safety Act of 2013. Gov. Bentley said, “We are extremely disappointed by today’s ruling. Abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life, and I believe that it should only be done as a last possible effort to save the life of the mother. As a doctor, I firmly believe that medical procedures, including abortions, performed in Alabama should be done in the safest manner possible. This law ensures that if a complication arises there is continuity of treatment between doctor and patient. This ruling significantly diminishes those important protections. I will always fight for the rights of the unborn, and support an appeal of today’s decision.”
Alabama Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey (R) said, “As a pro-life advocate, elected official, and a woman, I am disappointed with today’s ruling out of the Middle District of Alabama. It is my hope that the health and safety of women undergoing an abortion procedure would be of paramount importance to those in positions of authority on the issue, but the ruling indicates otherwise. I fully expect the decision will be appealed and I will continue to advocate for the protection of life in Alabama.”
Lt. Governor Ivey is a member of the National Pro-Life Women’s Caucus organized by the Susan B. Anthony List.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said, “Planned Parenthood and other like organizations claim that legislators who passed this law were simply trying to make it impossible for Alabama women to obtain abortions. Contrary to their opinion, the Women’s Health and Safety Act was designed to protect women. As Republicans we are opposed to abortion, but beyond that we are proponents of life. If a woman does have an abortion, it is important that she receive proper care. By nullifying the 2013 law, we now risk the possibility of women not being correctly taken care of in the event of complications. While we might not agree with a woman’s decision to obtain an abortion, we cannot neglect her right to medical safety. Planned Parenthood claims today’s ruling as a victory; a clear display that the organization cares more about the right of a woman to have an abortion than her actual safety.”
The Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said on Facebook, “Regardless of what a single federal judges say, the Alabama House will not stop in our efforts to provide the unborn with a safe haven in our state. Life is a gift from God, and we will fight today’s ruling to protect it.”
According to media reports, Judge Thompson originally planned to release his decision in July, but decided to delay until after a similar case in Mississippi was decided upon. The Mississippi case featured a similar law and a federal appeal court ruled 2-1 that it was unconstitutional.
The Alabama Legislature passed the Women’s Health and Safety Act sponsored by State Representative Mary Sue McClurkin after incidents in Birmingham where women having complications had to be rushed to area emergency rooms. The bill would have required that the State’s abortion clinics meet the same safety standards as outpatient surgical centers. Abortion clinic operators claim that complying with the law would have forced them to shut down.