Abortion law trial ends, ruling to come next month

Published: Jun. 10, 2014 at 1:02 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2014 at 10:32 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Attorneys for three abortion clinics in Alabama and the state of Alabama wrapped up their arguments in a federal trial challenging one of the state's abortion laws Monday.

Judge Myron Thompson told attorneys that they could expect his ruling on the Women's Health and Safety Act of 2013 by the end of July.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Southeast, and Reproductive Health Services sued the state of Alabama to block a law passed by the Alabama Legislature during the 2013 Regular Session that requires that abortion doctors have admitting privileges to a local hospital.

The groups argued that the privilege is onerous and could cause abortion clinics to close because their doctors wouldn't qualify for admitting privileges since they don't live in the areas where they perform abortions.

The state contended that abortion doctors in Mobile, Montgomery, and Birmingham haven't applied for admitting privileges, making any arguments that they couldn't receive them moot.

Hospital administrators testified that if a doctor applied and was either rejected or withdrew their application, that could look negative on their resume or CV.

Alabama's Solicitor General, Andrew Brasher, led the defense for the state and argued that it's not much to ask abortion clinics and their physicians to provide "continuity of care" to patients who may need it in the event of complications.

However, complications from abortion are rare. As a matter of fact, last year, of the 2,300 abortion procedures that took place at the Birmingham Planned Parenthood Health Center, three patients were admitted to emergency rooms following their abortion procedures.

The law also includes new building requirements for abortion clinics, but the groups challenging the law didn't address those in their lawsuit.

Similar admitting privileges laws are on the books in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

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