Judge halts Alabama law banning brutal dismemberment abortions
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the two laws signed May 12 by Gov. Robert Bentley that were set to go into effect Aug. 1.
The Alabama legislature voted in May to prohibit abortion facilities from operating within 2,000 feet of public elementary and middle schools and to ban dismemberment abortions.
Dismemberment abortions, formerly known as dilation and evacuation, or “D&E” abortions, account for roughly 95 percent of second trimester abortions. They are considered especially brutal because the procedure involves tearing the unborn child apart in the womb.
“The Unborn Child Protection Act” banned them in Alabama “unless necessary to prevent serious health risk to the mother of the unborn child” and would make it the fifth state to issue a ban.
The law mandating that abortion facilities maintain a 2,000-foot distance from schools would force the Alabama Women's Center for Reproductive Alternatives, located a fifth of a mile from a Huntsville middle school, to relocate farther from the school or close.
State inspectors found violations of sanitary practices there in 2013. The facility closed later that year for failure to meet state regulations, reopening in 2014 across from the middle school, despite what pro-life advocates said were violations of city laws.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued, arguing the laws would significantly reduce abortion access and close the state’s two busiest abortion facilities.
At the request of abortion providers, Thompson scheduled an Oct. 4 hearing on whether to permanently block the laws, saying attorneys on both sides agreed to the enforcement delay ahead of the hearing.