ACLU and Planned Parenthood Challenge Alabama Law That Would Force Most Clinics in the State to Stop Providing Abortions Press Call to Discuss Lawsuit at 4:00 p.m. ET

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 11, 2013

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Planned Parenthood Southeast filed a lawsuit today challenging a state law that places medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers that would force most of the clinics in the state to stop providing abortions.

The law, which requires every physician who performs an abortion at a clinic to have staff privileges at a local hospital, is similar to a Mississippi law that was blocked by a federal district court earlier this year. Doctors and leading medical groups, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have opposed such requirements because they are unnecessary for the provision of safe, high-quality health care, and because they prevent women from getting necessary services. Alabama law does not require doctors providing surgery at other health centers to have admitting privileges even for more complicated procedures.

“By forcing most of the abortion clinics in the state to stop providing abortions, this law will make it impossible for some women to get this essential care,” said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “Politicians have no business placing ideology over the health care needs of Alabama’s women by interfering in one of the most personal, private decisions a woman can make.”

Unless it is blocked by the court, the law would force three of the state’s five abortion clinics, including the Planned Parenthood health centers in Birmingham and Mobile and Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery, to stop providing abortions. Doctors at these clinics are unable to obtain hospital staff privileges due to factors such as the hospital’s opposition to abortion or a requirement that physicians admit a minimum number of patients to the hospital. Because abortion is extremely safe, it is impossible for physicians who provide abortions to meet the minimum requirement.

“This law is part of a coordinated national campaign designed to outlaw abortion, state by state,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "This law insults women’s intelligence by claiming to be about safety, when the true intent is to shut down clinics and prevent a woman from making a real decision about her pregnancy.”

If the law is not blocked, the only abortion clinics left in the state will be in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa. There will be no facilities that provide abortions left in any of the state’s three most populous cities – Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery.

For more information, including legal documents, in this case, please visit: http://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/planned-parenthood-southeast-inc-reproductive-health-services-et-al-v-bentley

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