Ala. attorney general dismisses appeal of 2014 ruling declaring state abortion clinic law unconstitutional

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WASHINGTON — Hours after a dramatic Supreme Court ruling threw out a Texas abortion access law Monday, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced his office will dismiss its appeal of a 2014 federal court ruling declaring Alabama’s abortion clinic law unconstitutional.

“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today against a Texas law requiring abortion clinic doctors to obtain local hospital admitting privileges,” said Attorney General Strange. “The Texas law which was declared unconstitutional is nearly identical to an Alabama abortion clinic law currently under legal challenge.”

Strange said while he disagrees with SCOTUS’ decision, “There is no good faith argument that Alabama’s law remains constitutional in light of the Supreme Court ruling.  Accordingly, my office will dismiss our appeal of a 2014 federal court ruling declaring Alabama’s abortion clinic law unconstitutional.”

In 2014, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that Alabama lawmakers exceeded their authority when they passed the Alabama Women’s Health and Safety Act of 2013 – a law requiring doctors at clinics that provide abortion services to have hospital admitting privileges.

After the 5-3 SCOTUS vote, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, which stated in part, “We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.

“There was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure,” Breyer wrote.

Lawmakers react

Hillary Clinton immediately praised the ruling.

President Barack Obama said he is “pleased” by the ruling.

“We remain strongly committed to the protection of women’s health, including protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her right to determine her own future, the President said.

In Alabama, Governor Robert Bentley said,

“I am disappointed to see the U.S. Supreme Court make a political decision in their ruling of the Texas abortion clinic regulation. As a physician, I am concerned about the medical condition of all women, especially when a woman is facing a serious health procedure. In this Texas case, the Supreme Court is making a medical ruling, without any sound medical expertise. Requiring a doctor to have admitting privileges at a local hospital protects the doctor and the patient. In 2013, I signed into law the Women’s Health and Safety Act that requires clinics that provide abortions to meet the same facility standards as ambulatory care centers, which include admitting privileges at local hospitals.

In February 2016, Alabama joined the filing of the Texas amicus brief because I support the regulating of unsafe health practices at women’s health clinics.  The conscious decision to end human life should never be cause for celebration in a civilized society. There is value to all human life and all humanity.”

 

Rep. Ed Henry, R Hartselle, echoed the governor’s sentiments, saying, “The Supreme Court ruling in the Texas abortion case disregards the sanctity of unborn life and threatens the health and safety of women across the country. The current Supreme Court continues to erode our nation’s moral fabric and turns a blind eye to the fundamental constitutional principles its members are sworn to uphold. It is vitally important that we elect a president who will appoint strict constructionist legal scholars, not politically-motivated liberal hacks, to the highest court, and that is one of many reasons why I support Donald Trump for president.”

Rep. Robert Aderholt, AL-4, tweeted:

House Speaker Paul Ryan also decried the decision, tweeting: