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Court blocks the Alabama abortion ban

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.

U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson , age 72, granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday blocking H.B. 314, the Human Life Protection Act. The state law would have banned abortion in nearly all instances in Alabama. The one exception is to protect the health of the mother.

The move was expected by both the opponents of the law and supporters. Supporters are hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the controversial Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions across the country.

The ban would have made performing most abortions a felony. Doctors who defied Alabama law could potentially spend the rest of their lives in state prison. The ban was scheduled to take effect on November 15.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood Federation of America brought the lawsuit on behalf of Alabama abortion providers. The decision comes on the heels of decisions by other courts blocking similar bans in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio.

Statement from Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast:

“This is not only a victory for the people of Alabama — it’s a victory for the entire nation,” Planned Parenthood Southeast President Staci Fox said. “We said it from the start: this ban is blatantly unconstitutional and we will fight it every step of the way. We will continue fighting this law in court until it is permanently blocked and we will work every day to make sure that abortion remains safe, legal, and available in Alabama.”

Alexis McGill Johnson is the Acting President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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“Once again, the courts have affirmed that we have a right to access safe, legal abortion,” Pres. Johnson said. “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. 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.”

Randall Marshall is the Executive Director of ACLU of Alabama.

“As expected, the court has blocked the law and it will not go into effect,” Randall Marshall said. “Abortion remains legal in Alabama. The state’s repeated attempts to push abortion out of reach by enacting unconstitutional laws restricting abortions have already cost taxpayers nearly 2.5 million dollars. This ill-advised law will cost taxpayers more money.”

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas is the senior staff attorney for ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
“Today’s decision recognizes this ban for what it is: a blatantly unconstitutional attack on the fundamental right to abortion,” Kolbi-Molinas said. “The Alabama ban, and the others like it, are the culmination of a nationwide strategy to push abortion out of reach. In the past nine years, states have passed 479 restrictions on access to abortion, leaving increasingly vast areas of our country with few or no abortion providers. The ACLU will continue fighting for a future that safeguards people’s ability to get abortion care, upholds basic rights and justice, and respects our decision-making — no matter where we live and no matter how much money we make.”

Dr. Yashica Robinson is a “comprehensive women’s health specialist” and a plaintiff in the case:

“This win is critical to our patients and to health care providers like myself,” Dr. Robinson said. “The abortion care we provide is essential health care, and these ruthless attacks from anti-abortion politicians have no place in Alabama. We will keep fighting to ensure that we can provide care that our patients need and to keep abortion accessible in our communities.”

State Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) is the Senate sponsor of House Bill 314. State Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur) sponsored the bill.

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“This is judicial activism, pure and simple,” Sen. Chambliss said, “In 2018, the people of Alabama overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to declare Alabama a pro-life state, and the Human Life Protection Act was passed by supermajorities in both chambers of the Alabama Legislature. Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision, built on faulty legal reasoning, that has resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent babies. The State of Alabama through the Attorney General’s Office will mount a vigorous defense of Alabama’s law in court — may this be the first step to restoring the rule of the U.S. Constitution and a culture of life on this matter.”

Father Frank Pavone is the National Director of Priests for Life.

“This is not at all surprising, and in fact it’s par for the course,” Father Pavone said. “District Judge Myron Thompson, a Carter nominee, could have allowed the law to be enacted on schedule on Nov. 15 and let the legal challenges proceed. That would have saved lives. He decided, instead, to let abortionists continue to slaughter babies in Alabama.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) anticipated Tuesday’s decision by Judge Thompson.

“The district court’s decision to grant the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction of Alabama’s 2019 abortion law as to pre-viability abortions was not unexpected,” Steve Marshall said in a statement. “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.”

“Every time a federal judge blocks an abortion law, Americans are reminded about the importance of having a pro-life president in the White House – for two terms – and a pro-life Senate,” Father Pavone continued. “When all of President Trump’s judicial nominees are seated, it will no longer be par for the course for life-saving laws to be blocked. We look forward to that day.”

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU routinely judge shop to get these cases in front of Judge Thompson, who has a long track record of finding in favor of the abortion industry.

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The ruling can be read here.

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

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