Another win has been declared for reproductive rights this week. On Monday, a federal judge declared an Alabama law that restricted women's access to abortion was unconstitutional. HB 57 required that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The bill, similar in nature to bills in Texas and Wisconsin, would have forced three out of five abortion providers in the state to cease providing abortions. The judge called these potential closures a “striking result,” and issued temporary injunction on the law. The judge will solicit comments and feedback from attorneys from both sides before issuing his final ruling.
In his opinion, the judge wrote that the proposed law constituted an impermissible undue burden on women’s constitutional right to access abortion services. In support of his decision, the judge found that the law would compromise women’s safety by undermining the patient-care goals put forward by the state. The judge also found that Alabama’s justifications for the law were weak, speculative, and did not reflect the practice of 21st century medicine.
The plaintiffs in the case, Planned Parenthood Southeast and Reproductive Health Services, were represented by attorneys from the ACLU, the ACLU of Alabama, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Sabel & Sabel, a Montgomery-based firm. The ACLU’s deputy legal director, Louise Melling, pointed out the weak foundations of this law: “the justifications offered for this law are weak at best…[.]Politicians, not doctors, crafted this law for the sole purpose of shutting down women’s health care centers and preventing women from getting safe, legal abortions.”
The Alabama law was one of many "Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers" (TRAP) laws aimed at restricting access to safe and legal reproductive health care. This ruling, coming on the heels of last week’s ruling that allowed Mississippi’s lone clinic to remain open, is further proof that politicians shouldn’t interfere with a woman’s private health care decisions. The ruling is further proof that, despite what anti-abortion activists say, these TRAP laws don’t make women’s lives safer. If politicians think they do, they should think again.