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Alabama Joins Texas Law Suit on Abortion Doctors

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Wednesday, February 3, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) announced that Alabama has joined an amicus brief in support of the right of States to require abortion clinic doctors to obtain local hospital admitting privileges.

On Wednesday, Alabama joined the 23-state amicus brief supporting Texas in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v Cole, which challenges that state’s legal right to require abortion clinic physicians to maintain hospital admission privileges.

Alabama passed a law in 2013, to ensure that abortion clinics operating in the State maintain hospital admitting privileges for all doctors on their staffs who perform abortions.  The Alabama law was later ruled unconstitutional by US District Judge Myron Thompson.  Thompson granted a Tuscaloosa clinic’s request to block the State from enforcing the regulation.  Thompson ruled that the clinic was likely to prevail on its claim that the admitting privileges requirements were unconstitutional.

In his ruling, US District Court Judge Myron Thompson wrote, “The evidence compellingly demonstrates that the requirement would have the striking result of closing three of Alabama’s five abortion clinics, clinics which perform only early abortions, long before viability. Indeed, the court is convinced that, if this requirement would not, in the face of all the evidence in the record, constitute an impermissible undue burden, then almost no regulation, short of those imposing an outright prohibition on abortion, would.”

Planned Parenthood celebrate the Thompson ruling.

The President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement, “This ruling will ensure that women in Alabama will have access to safe, legal abortion.  And Planned Parenthood will continue to fight for our patients, because a woman’s ability to make personal medical decisions should not depend on where she lives.”
Planned Parenthood Southeast President Staci Fox said, “We all want to protect patient safety, but 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.  This victory ensures that women in Alabama can make their own private health care decisions without the interference from politicians.”

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Texas’ law was also challenged in court.  Texas won its appeal and the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case this year.

In their amicus to the US Supreme Court, Alabama and the other states asserted, “There is no justification for affording preferred treatment to abortion rights by unleashing on each State the unwieldy inquiry of whether clinic regulations permit adequate access to abortions. The Court has always recognized the States’ interest in regulating health and safety – for all patients, including women seeking abortions.  It has identified as obvious areas for state oversight, the regulation of doctors and their staff, of medical facilities, and of emergency plans.”

The Supreme Court will now decide whether state governments can regulate this issue or not.

Luther Strange is in his second term as Alabama Attorney General.

In addition to Alabama, other states participating in the amicus brief are Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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