Arguments Continue Over Ala. Admitting Privileges Law

February 11, 2014 — A federal judge on Friday heard testimony in a lawsuit challenging an Alabama law (HB 57) that requires physicians who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Chandler, AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/7).

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson previously issued a temporary injunction to block enforcement of the law until March 24. Both sides have asked Thompson to issue summary judgment, meaning the judge will rule on the law based on legal arguments rather than a trial (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/18/13).

Friday's Testimony

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas told Thompson that allowing the law to take effect would force three clinics in the state -- located in Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery -- to close and require women seeking abortions to drive hundreds of miles to the two remaining clinics in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/7).

Kolbi-Molinas said that physicians who provide abortions are not applying for hospital admitting privileges because they expect their requests to be denied and fear that records in a state database showing the denied requests could harm them professionally.

The judge questioned ACLU's statistical analysis on clinic closings, calling it a "fiction."

Alabama Deputy Solicitor General Andrew Brasher told Thompson that clinic closings would not unduly burden women's right to access abortions because they could travel to neighboring states, such as Florida or Georgia (Harris/Edwards, Bloomberg Businessweek, 2/7).