July 23, 2013 — A federal judge has extended through March 24, 2014, a temporary stay on a provision in an Alabama law (HB 57) that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, AP/Modern Healthcare reports. The law -- which originally was scheduled to take effect July 1 -- previously had been delayed through Aug. 15 (Rawls, AP/Modern Healthcare, 7/20).
In June, the American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit against the law -- which would also require abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory clinics -- on behalf of Planned Parenthood Southeast and Reproductive Health Services, an abortion provider in Montgomery. The groups claimed the law would force three of the state's five clinics to close, placing an unconstitutional burden on a woman's right to an abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/2).
State attorneys asked for the delay to prepare for the case, and U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson agreed with their reasoning. Under the new timeline, final legal arguments on the effect of the law are due Jan. 31, 2014.
Timeline Could Affect State Elections
According to AP/Modern Healthcare, the new timeline will put the abortion law "in the news during the  campaign season." Thompson's final ruling could be issued before the primaries on June 3, 2014, and almost certainly before the general election on Nov. 4, 2014, AP/Modern Healthcare reports.
State Democratic Party Chair Nancy Worley said the trial could galvanize women voters. Similarly, state Rep. John Rogers (D) said, "Women are concerned about their rights being suppressed. This is our key to breaking the supermajority that Republicans have."
However, state Republican Party Chair Bill Armistead said the ruling likely will have little effect on the election because Democrats will be tentative about introducing abortion to their platform in a largely antiabortion-rights state. "Alabamians are pro-life and they want to protect the life of everyone," he said (AP/Modern Healthcare, 7/20).