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Federal Judge Rules Alabama Abortion Law Is Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled on Monday that an Alabama law targeting doctors who perform abortions is unconstitutional, because it places an undue burden on women seeking an abortion.

The measure — which is similar to laws in 10 other states — requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. As Reuters reports, the 2013 Alabama law had "threatened to close three of the state's five abortion clinics," which used traveling doctors who could not get admitting privileges.

Al.com reports:

"[U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson] held a three-week, non-jury trial in May and June. In a 172-page opinion released today, the judge wrote: 'The evidence compellingly demonstrates that the requirement would have the striking result of closing three of Alabama's five abortion clinics, clinics which perform only early abortions, long before viability.'

"Thompson had initially planned to rule in July, but last week notified attorneys that he was delaying his decision until today to give him more time to study the opinions in a federal appeals court ruling on a similar law in Mississippi.

"The appeals court last week ruled 2-1 that the Mississippi law was unconstitutional."

The Associated Press reports that Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said he disagreed with the ruling and would appeal it. Proponents of the law have said this regulation would make women safer.

The American Civil Liberties Union disagrees, saying that major medical associations such as the American Medical Association opposed the legislation.

Judge Thompson also issued an order blocking the law from being enforced.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.