Judge rules abortion law illegal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2014

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson on Monday issued a ruling declaring an Alabama law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges unconstitutional, calling it a burden on women’s rights to abortion.

“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,” he wrote in a 172-page opinion.

Abortion suppliers filed suit to block the 2013 law, commonly known as the Women’s Health and Safety Act, claiming it would force three of the clinics to close since the doctors who work there would not have been able to obtain admitting privileges.

Locally, pro-life supporter Jan White, speaking as a private citizen and not for Sav-A-Life, an interdenominational ministry, which she said is non-political, spoke to the Star-News about the ruling.

“While I respect (Judge Thompson’s) judgment on constitutional matters, I think it’s reasonable to offer steps to protect a woman’s life,” she said. “As a result of an abortion, a woman may experience a medical emergency requiring hospitalization. According to news reports on the trial of this lawsuit brought by abortion providers, doctors who work at the three clinics in Alabama do not live in our state. Court documents reported 9,009 abortions were performed in Alabama in 2012. How many of them could have had medical complications?

“All life is precious, born and unborn, and both need to be protected,” she said.

Alabama GOP Chairman Bill Armistead issued a statement Monday in response to the decision.

“Planned Parenthood and other like organizations claim the legislators who passed this law were simply trying to make it impossible for Alabama women to obtain abortions,” he said. “Contrary to their opinion, the Women’s Health and Safety Act was designed to protect women. As Republicans, we are opposed to abortion, but beyond that we are proponents of life. If a woman does have an abortion, it is important that she receive proper care. By nullifying the 2013 law, we now risk the possibility of women not being correctly taken care of in the event of complications.”

Armistead said that while Republicans may not agree with a woman’s decision to obtain an abortion, her right to medical safety cannot be neglected.

“Planned Parenthood claims today’s ruling as a victory; a clear display that the organization cares more about the right of a woman to have an abortion than her actual safety,” he said.

Staci Fox, president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, also weighed in on the decision.

“Politicians passed this law in order to make it impossible for women in Alabama to get abortions, plain and simple,” she said. “This victory ensures that women in Alabama can make their own private health care decisions without the interference from politicians.”

Gov. Robert Bentley called abortion a “fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life.”

“I believe that it should only be done as a last possible effort to save the life of the mother,” he said in a statement. “As a doctor, I firmly believe that medical procedures, including abortions, performed in Alabama should be done in the safest manner possible.”

In Thompson’s ruling, he cited a 1992 Supreme Court decision that said that an “undue burden” is a “state regulation that has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”