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Federal lawsuit filed to block Alabama's new abortion ban

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit Friday on behalf of Alabama abortion providers seeking to overturn the nation's most stringent abortion law.

Posted: May 24, 2019 8:46 AM
Updated: May 24, 2019 9:43 AM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Abortion providers are asking a federal judge to block an Alabama law that would ban most abortions in the state.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit Friday on behalf of Alabama abortion providers seeking to overturn the nation's most stringent abortion law.

The lawsuit says the Alabama law to criminalize abortion is clearly unconstitutional and would harm women by forcing them to continue pregnancies against their will.

The Alabama law would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider. The only exception would be when the woman's health is at serious risk.

The law will take effect in November unless blocked by a judge.

Here's the press release from the 3 groups. Stay with WAAY 31 on air and WAAYTV.com online for updates.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit today on behalf of Alabama abortion providers challenging an extreme law that bans abortion in nearly every case and punishes doctors with up to 99 years in prison for providing care. Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill into law on May 15, making Alabama the fifth state this year to enact an outright abortion ban.

The lawsuit comes amid nationwide opposition to the extreme ban and follows a week of protests throughout the country opposing state abortion bans. Earlier this year, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, and Mississippi also enacted laws banning abortion, and the Missouri governor is expected to sign a ban soon. The ACLU has already obtained an injunction blocking the Kentucky ban. The ACLU, together with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, have also filed suit against the ban in Ohio and are preparing a legal challenge in Georgia. No abortion ban, including Alabama’s, is in effect and abortion remains legal in all 50 states.

“The Alabama legislature has been pushing abortion care further and further out of reach for years with medically unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions, and this extreme abortion ban shows us just how far they’ll go to push their anti-abortion agenda,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This law is blatantly unconstitutional, and the ACLU will not stand by while politicians emboldened by President Trump’s anti-abortion agenda exploit our health and our lives for political gain.”

“Make no mistake: Abortion remains – and will remain – safe and legal in Alabama. With this lawsuit, we are seeking a court order to make sure this law never takes effect,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “We hope our state’s elected leaders take note and stop using taxpayer dollars on a legal gamble that they know is unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

This near-total abortion ban is the latest in a long line of restrictions passed by anti-abortion politicians in Alabama that push care out of reach. The ACLU and PPSE have successfully challenged multiple previous restrictions designed to shut down abortion clinics in the state. They have never lost a challenge to an abortion restriction in Alabama.

“Our patients at Alabama Women’s Center already have to overcome so much just to get to our doors, and this law further shames them, punishes providers like myself, and stigmatizes essential health care,” said Dr. Yashica Robinson, comprehensive women’s health specialist and owner of Alabama Women’s Center, who is a plaintiff in the case. “Alabama has a long track record of passing laws designed to close clinics and push abortion care out of reach, and just like we have before, we will fight for our patients and do all we can to stay open and continue serving our community.”

These efforts are part of ACLU’s decades-long fight to protect the right to abortion for all. The ACLU mobilized its over three million members to join partner organizations at nearly 500 events across the country, with tens of thousands of people in attendance, to protest the attack on abortion rights. The organization has also launched a national advertising campaign featuring Busy Philipps against the recent attacks on abortion rights.

“Alabama’s state motto is audemus jura nostra defendere, which means ‘we dare defend our rights.’ That’s exactly what we’re doing here today,” said Staci Fox, President and CEO at Planned Parenthood Southeast. “Abortion has been safe and legal in this country for more than 45 years and we aim to keep it that way. We are protecting the rights of our patients. We are defending the work of the brave folks who came before us. And we are fighting to take this country forward, not backwards.”

“What we’re seeing in Alabama is a manmade public health emergency and we’re fighting back. To patients seeking safe, legal abortion care in Alabama: this extreme ban hasn’t gone into effect yet — and we will make sure of it,” said Dr. Leana Wen, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “This dangerous, immoral, and unconstitutional ban threatens people’s lives and well-being and we are suing to protect our patient’s rights. The facts are on our side, the public is on our side, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure women across Alabama can receive the health care they need today, tomorrow, and beyond.”

In addition to Dr. Robinson, plaintiffs represented in the case are Alabama Women’s Center, Reproductive Health Services, West Alabama Women’s Center, and Planned Parenthood Southeast.

READ THE LAWSUIT HERE

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