MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday blocked new Alabama abortion restrictions that sought to ban clinics near schools and outlaw a common second trimester abortion procedure.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a preliminary injunction Thursday against the provisions, which would have banned abortion clinics within 2,000 feet of K-8 public schools and barred the second-trimester procedure known as dilation and evacuation.
Thompson said the location restriction would force closure of two of the state’s busiest abortion clinics — facilities in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa— that together perform 70 percent of all abortions in the state. Those clinics are also the only providers of abortions beginning at 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“The availability of abortions in Alabama would be significantly reduced, and abortions beginning at 15 weeks would become almost wholly unavailable,” Thompson wrote in the 102-page opinion.
The location bill targeted the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville. The clinic moved to a new location in 2013 in order to comply with a new state law requiring clinics to meet the same building code requirements as outpatient surgical centers. The new location is down the street from a K-8 magnet school.
Thompson also issued an injunction against the ban on abortion through dilation and evacuation, in which the contents of the uterus are removed with forceps. Alabama lawmakers who supported the ban called the procedure “barbaric.” The state had argued abortion could still be conducted through procedures, such as an injection of potassium chloride, that first induce fetal demise. Thompson said those procedures are riskier and difficult to obtain.
“As explained, in the absence of an injunction, Alabama women would immediately lose the right to obtain a pre-viability abortion anywhere in the State when they reached 15 weeks of pregnancy, whereas all the State will face is that a likely unconstitutional law passed by legislators will not go into effect,” Thompson wrote.
Similar laws have been blocked in Kansas and Oklahoma.
The laws were to take effect Aug. 1, but enforcement was delayed until after an Oct. 4 hearing before Thompson after clinic owners and an abortion doctor challenged the laws.
“It’s long past time for our elected officials to stop wasting time and taxpayer money passing laws that violate women’s constitutional rights and start focusing on the needs of women and families in this state,” said Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, which filed the challenge.
The attorney general’s office and governor’s press office could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday night.
Source: Daily Mail