Federal judge blocks law restricting Ala. abortion docs

A federal judge blocked an Alabama law restricting abortion doctors in a victory for Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights groups.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled Monday that a law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges is unconstitutional.

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Last week, a federal appeals court ruled against a similar law in neighboring Mississippi.

Advocates feared that the laws would shutter the handful of abortion clinics that remain open in those states and impose a burden on women. 

Supporters of the rules say they protect women in distress during difficult abortion procedures.

A fast appeal is expected after Monday's decision, which was first reported by The Associated Press.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) praised the ruling.

"As the judge noted today, the justifications offered for this law are weak at best,” ACLU deputy legal director Louise Melling said in a statement.

"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."