Federal Court Rules Alabama Admitting Privileges Requirement Unconstitutional
The ruling did not block the law permanently; it extends a temporary injunction blocking the law from taking effect.
On Monday, a federal court ruled unconstitutional an Alabama law that requires doctors performing abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The law, HB 57, would have forced all but two licensed health centers in the state to stop providing abortions.
“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,” U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson wrote. “Indeed, the court is convinced that, if this requirement would not, in the face of all the evidence in the record, constitute an impermissible undue burden, then almost no regulation, short of those imposing an outright prohibition on abortion, would.”
The law, which passed last year, had been blocked by the court since June, after reproductive rights organizations challenged its constitutionality. Monday’s ruling stopped short of blocking the law entirely and instead extended a temporary injunction, which allows the court to solicit input from both attorneys for Planned Parenthood and the state as to what an appropriate final resolution in the case would look like.
Louise Melling, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, praised the ruling in a statement. “As the judge noted today, the justifications offered for this law are weak at best,” said Melling.
Monday’s decision comes as a second trial over the constitutionality of a similar Texas requirement begins in a federal district court in Austin. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court has ruled Mississippi’s admitting privileges law unconstitutional, and a trial court ruling is expected soon in a Wisconsin case challenging a similar law there.