Judge Decides to Put Alabama's Controversial Abortion Law on Trial

A district court judge who blocked the implementation of an Alabama abortion law last year announced Monday that a trial will be held on the merits of the law.

Judge Myron Thompson gave an 86-page decision explaining that an Alabama law, if enacted, might lead to the closure of some or all of the state's five abortion clinics.

"If the court finds that the statute was motivated by a purpose of protecting fetal life, then the statute had the unconstitutional purpose of creating a substantial obstacle," wrote Thompson.

"The court has concluded that there are genuine disputes of material fact regarding whether the clinics will close, the extent of the obstacle clinic closures would create, and the strength of the government's justifications for the statute."

Last year Alabama passed a bill meant to increase regulations for abortion clinics, with the intention of holding the clinics to the same health and safety standards as ambulatory care centers.

Signed into law by Republican Gov. Robert Bentley last April, the bill was the subject of a lawsuit filed by multiple pro-choice groups, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the ACLU, and Reproductive Health Services.

Last June, Thompson blocked enforcement of part of the law, stating that evidence had to be reviewed as to the effects of the new measure. 

"The part of the law at issue requires doctors at abortion clinics to have approval to admit patients to a nearby hospital," according to the AP. 

One clinic worker told AP, "it's difficult for abortion clinic operators to get hospital privileges, and the law should shut down three of Alabama's five clinics."

She further commented that "clinics in Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham performed 40 percent of all abortions" in that state last year.

Supporters of the bill say that it would help to secure the wellbeing of women who use abortion clinics while critics argue that the bill's sole purpose is to close down abortion facilities.

Pastor James Henderson, a pro-life advocate, told WAFF-TV that he believes the law "should be upheld."

"I think you have to question Planned Parenthood's motives. They are all about making money and they are not very objective in their stand," he said.

Thompson's decision for a trial comes as the Alabama legislature is considering three abortion-related bills.

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