Federal District Court Blocks Alabama Pro-Life Laws
A federal district court in Alabama temporarily blocked two laws Thursday that would have restricted abortion in the state.
One law, SB 205, prevents abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of any public K-8 school. The other, SB 363 (also known as the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Act), outlaws the dilation and evacuation method of abortion used during the second trimester.
The ACLU challenged both laws, and on Thursday Judge Myron H. Thompson issued a preliminary injunction, blocking the laws from taking effect until a final judgment is made. He wrote in his opinion that the laws are likely to be found unconstitutional.
Andrew Beck, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, compared the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down a Texas law restricting abortion.
“People and courts all over the country are sending a loud and clear message: Stop interfering with a woman’s personal decisions,” Beck said in a news release from the ACLU. “The question now is, will politicians get the message?”
Republican Alabama Sen. Phil Williams, sponsor of SB 363, previously called the ACLU’s challenge of the law “misguided.” The bill “prohibits the gruesome abortion of unborn children by dismemberment.” The fetus, he said, citing Anthony Kennedy’s description of the method, “in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: it bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.”
“Life is a gift from God and protecting life is a primary duty of any court or legislature,” he said then. “The people’s representatives in the Alabama Legislature overwhelmingly approved the passage of the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act, and I am confident the courts will uphold its legality.”
Senate Bill 205 was passed by the Alabama Senate in March and sponsored by Republican Sen. Paul Sanford. At the time, Sanford said he hoped that no abortion clinic in the state “would ever open that close to small children” again, noting that one clinic fewer than 2,000 feet from two schools in Huntsville might be allowed to stay open since it was there before the bill passed.
Neither Sanford nor Williams could be reached for comment on Thursday’s ruling.