Federal judge temporarily blocks Alabama’s near-total abortion ban

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A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked an Alabama abortion law that would have outlawed the procedure in almost all cases.

Judge Myron Thompson, a Carter appointee, issued the preliminary injunction. The law, which does not provide exceptions for rape or incest, was slated to take effect next month.
“Enforcement of the ban would yield serious and irreparable harm, violating the right to privacy and preventing women from obtaining abortions in Alabama,” Thompson wrote.

{mosads}The preliminary injunction means the state can’t enforce the law while it is being challenged in court. But Thompson said the law will “almost certainly be found unconstitutional.”

Thompson wrote that the Alabama law “contravenes clear Supreme Court precedent” and “defies the United States Constitution.”

“It violates the right of an individual to privacy, to make ‘choices central to personal dignity and autonomy,’ ” he added.

The law is one of a number of restrictive abortion bills passed by GOP-led state legislatures in an attempt to get the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established a woman’s right to abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed the lawsuit on behalf of Alabama abortion-care providers and their patients.

The law would ban abortion in nearly all instances, and any doctor who performed an abortion would face a sentence of up to 99 years in prison.

Thompson’s ruling comes on the heels of decisions by other federal courts blocking similar bans in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio.

As expected, the court has blocked the law and it will not go into effect. Abortion remains legal in Alabama,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “The state’s repeated attempts to push abortion out of reach by enacting unconstitutional laws restricting abortions have already cost taxpayers nearly 2.5 million dollars. This ill-advised law will cost taxpayers more money.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) said she expects the state’s attorney general to challenge Tuesday’s ruling.

“We must continue doing all we can to protect life. However, we also anticipated this challenge, and I support the rule of law,” Ivey said in a statement. “I am fully behind the Attorney General’s handling of this case and trust that he will do everything he can to challenge today’s ruling and obtain a just result. Alabamians support life, and that is what this legislation was originally intended to do, and that is to defend every human life.”

Some experts argue the Supreme Court is unlikely to take up a case that is blatantly unconstitutional.

Other states, like Georgia and Kentucky, have passed bans on abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy, testing court precedent that says states can’t ban the procedure before the fetus is viable. Health professionals put fetal viability — the point at which a baby can survive outside the womb — at about 24 to 28 weeks. 

Updated at 1:09 p.m.

Tags Abortion ACLU ACLU of Alabama Alabama Kay Ivey Planned Parenthood Roe v. Wade Supreme Court
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