June 11, 2014 — A federal judge expects to rule by the end of July on the constitutionality of an Alabama law (HB 57) that requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the AP/Tampa Tribune reports (AP/Tampa Tribune, 6/9).
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson began hearing arguments in the trial last month after rejecting summary judgment requests from the state and the plaintiffs. Thompson has issued a temporary restraining order against the law to keep it from taking effect until a final judgment is issued (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/19).
In closing arguments on Monday, Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the law would force three of the state's five abortion clinics to close because they employ out-of-state physicians who cannot secure the admitting privileges.
Alabama Solicitor General Andrew Brasher argued that the out-of-state providers have not tried to obtain the privileges and that the clinics have not tried to recruit abortion providers to move into the state, where it could be easier to get the privileges.
Brasher said increasing the rate of pay for physicians could make recruiting easier, but Kolbi-Molinas said the real issue is that constant protests and threats, as well as a 1998 bombing of an Alabama abortion clinic, make abortion doctors wary of living in the state.
According to the AP/Tribune, an appeal of Thompson's decision to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected, regardless of how he rules (AP/Tampa Tribune, 6/9).