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Montgomery, AL. –  This morning, a federal district court ruled in favor of Alabama women and concluded that a state law requiring doctors providing abortion obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals has no basis in medicine and would restrict women’s access to safe, legal medical care. Had it gone into effect, this dangerous law would have forced all but two of the licensed health centers in Alabama to stop providing abortions. In his ruling today, U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson wrote: “The evidence compellingly demonstrates that the requirement would have the striking result of closing three of Alabama’s five abortion clinics… 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.”

“We all want to protect patient safety—this law doesn’t do that. Politicians passed this law in order to make it impossible for women in Alabama to get abortions, plain and simple,” said Planned Parenthood Southeast President/CEO Staci Fox.

“This victory ensures that women in Alabama can make their own private health care decisions without the interference from politicians,” Fox said.

The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose laws requiring doctors that provide abortions to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals because they harm women and interfere in the doctor-patient relationship. Data, including from the CDC, shows that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. Moreover, for patients’ safety, the plaintiffs in this case already have plans in place in case of an emergency. These laws put women at risk because they force quality health care providers to close.

“This ruling will ensure that women in Alabama will have access to safe, legal abortion,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “And Planned Parenthood will continue to fight for our patients, because a woman’s ability to make personal medical decisions should not depend on where she lives.”

Physicians who safely provide abortion in Alabama may be unable to obtain staff privileges at a local hospital for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with their credentials or the quality of care provided.  Most Alabama hospitals require providers to admit a certain number of patients to the hospital per year, a provision that abortion providers cannot meet because the procedure is extremely safe.  Other hospitals mandate that doctors live within a certain distance from a hospital.

Planned Parenthood Southeast and another women’s health care provider, Reproductive Health Services, were represented by attorneys from the Montgomery firm Sabel & Sabel, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Key Facts:

Similar admitting privileges restrictions have passed in Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma — and if all these laws take effect, abortion access in wide swaths of this region could be virtually eliminated overnight.  At a federal trial on a similar law enacted in Wisconsin, an independent, court-appointed medical expert recently said of laws like this, “I think it is an unacceptable experiment to see if you decrease access (to abortion) and see if more women die.  It is not acceptable.  It is not ethical.  People will resort to illegal abortions.”

The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose these restrictions, writing that:  “There is no medical basis to require abortion providers to have local hospital admitting privileges.  Emergency room physicians, hospital-based physicians, and on-call specialists already provide prompt and effective treatment to all patients with urgent medical needs, including women with abortion-related complications… Unless there is a substantial public health justification, legislators should not interfere with patient care, medical decisions, and the patient-physician relationship.”

Planned Parenthood insists on the highest standards of patient care and has rigorous safety guidelines in place, informed by the most trusted medical knowledge, as well as professional and scientific organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


For more than 80 years, Planned Parenthood health centers have provided high-quality, nonjudgmental health care to women and men and Alabama.  Planned Parenthood Southeast is committed to making health care services available to those in need in communities across Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.


Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc.


August 04, 2014

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