Judge blocks Alabama laws restricting abortion access
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge has permanently blocked Alabama laws that tried to restrict abortion clinics near schools and to ban a common second-trimester procedure.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson came in 148-page ruling issued Thursday in which he prevented the state from enforcing the statutes. The decision made permanent a temporary ruling issued by Thompson a year ago; the state already is appealing that decision.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama called Thompson’s decision a “great victory” for women.
“Despite the state’s continued attempts to restrict access to abortion, the courts have definitively held that access to an abortion is a constitutional right,” Randall Marshall, executive director of the Alabama ACLU, said in a statement.
Mike Lewis, a spokesman for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, said the state will appeal Thompson’s ruling.
Legislators passed the laws in 2016. They banned abortion clinics within 2,000 feet of K-8 public schools and barred the second-trimester procedure known as dilation and evacuation.
Two of the state’s five abortion clinics, the Alabama Women’s Center of Huntsville and West Alabama Women’s Center of Tuscaloosa, filed suit to block the law. Combined, the two clinics perform about 70 percent of all abortions in the state, the judge said.
The location restriction would force both to close, Thompson wrote, and other clinics could be forced to relocate or close if new schools were constructed.
“This ever-present possibility would threaten the right of all women in Alabama to access an abortion,” the judge said.
Courts have blocked similar laws in Kansas and Oklahoma.