Washington, DC — Marking an important victory for Alabama women, the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama today extended its strong prior ruling on the unconstitutional restriction that threatened to close all but one health center that provides safe, legal abortion in the state. Today, the court struck down the admitting privileges restriction as to all women and health centers in the State (opinion linked here). This happens just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case against similar restrictions that devastated access to safe, legal abortion in Texas. Similar laws also threaten women’s access to safe and legal abortion in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin -- although they remain blocked by the courts, for now.
In the order, Judge Myron Thompson wrote: “the impact of the law on the right of Alabama women to choose to have an abortion will simply be enormous.” Judge Thompson continued, “The staff-privileges requirement would make it impossible for a woman to obtain an abortion in much of the State. It is certain that thousands of women per year--approximately 40 percent of those seeking abortions in the State--would be unduly burdened.”
This comes one week after the American Journal of Public Health published a study showing the tremendous hurdles Texas women face to access safe, legal abortion – including traveling hundreds of miles, multi-day trips, and increased cost – if they can access an abortion at all. Prior research found that women in some parts of Texas are waiting up to 20 days to access an abortion.
The plaintiffs in the case are represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of American and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America
“We applaud the court for protecting women’s access to safe, legal abortion in Alabama. As a health care provider, we’ve seen the grim consequences for women when politicians put safe abortion out of reach. When a similar law in Texas went into effect, our health centers were flooded with calls from women who weren’t sure where they could turn for care. If the Supreme Court upholds the Texas law, this could become a reality for women across the country.”
Statement from Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast:
“We commend the court for standing with Alabama’s women. Politicians passed this law in order to make it impossible for women in Alabama to get abortions, plain and simple. This victory ensures that women in Alabama can make their own private health care decisions without the interference from politicians.”
The law imposes a requirement that doctors who provide abortion obtain hospital admitting privileges at a local hospital. Data, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. The plaintiffs in this case already have plans in place for patient safety. Leading national medical groups, such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose laws like these because they do little for patient safety – in fact, these laws put women at risk because they force quality health care providers to close.
Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation's largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
March 25, 2016