MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal court issued an order tonight blocking the state of Alabama from using the guise of the COVID-19 crisis to prevent people from obtaining abortion care.
The ruling comes after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Alabama took emergency legal action on behalf of Dr. Yashica Robinson and three independent abortion clinics to stop Alabama’s attacks on abortion access during the pandemic. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology have said that abortion is a time-sensitive, essential medical procedure that cannot be delayed.
Earlier today, in a case brought by the ACLU, the ACLU of Ohio, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a federal court in Ohio blocked that state’s attempt to use a similar order to block abortion care. And a court in Texas did the same.
“Today, the court agreed that Alabama cannot use the COVID-19 crisis as a pretext to prevent patients from accessing abortion care,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This is critical victory and ensures government response to the pandemic is grounded in public health, not politics. We will continue to fight until the state’s attacks on abortion are blocked once and for all.”
“It’s shameful that Alabama politicians are using this health crisis to continue their efforts to deprive people of the ability to make the decision about whether to have an abortion for themselves,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “We need our politicians to be working to protect the health and safety of our community, not using the pandemic as way to ban abortion.”
“As health care providers, we hold the health and safety of our patients above all else,” said Dr. Yashica Robinson, an Alabama OB/GYN and plaintiff in the case. “And after weathering countless attacks from Alabama anti-abortion politicians, we saw the state's action for exactly what it was: an attempt to attack access to essential health care under the guise of pandemic response. I’m thrilled the court recognized that as well.”
The state’s move was far from the first time it has taken action to prevent people from access abortion care. Just last year, the state passed a law banning virtually all abortions and making the provision of abortion care a crime punishable by up to 99 years in prison. That law has been blocked by the court.
Today’s action was filed on behalf of Dr. Yashica Robinson and three independent abortion clinics, the Alabama Women’s Center, Reproductive Health Services, and West Alabama Women’s Center by the ACLU and the ACLU of Alabama.