MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CNS) — A federal judge in Montgomery issued an order July 23 to delay enforcement of a new Alabama law that mandates abortion clinic doctors have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
The law, which was to have gone into effect Aug. 15, also requires abortion clinics to meet the same safety standards as ambulatory care centers.
The action by Judge Myron Thompson, of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, postpones the law until March 24, 2014, so the court can move ahead on hearing a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Women’s Health and Safety Act was signed into law in April by Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican. Backers of the law say it would make abortions safer. Opponents say it aims to shut down most of the state’s licensed abortion clinics by imposing new regulations they consider unnecessary.
News reports said most of the state’s clinics contract with out-of-town physicians to perform abortions and rely on local doctors with hospital privileges to provide care afterward.
An attorney representing Planned Parenthood called the law unconstitutional, saying it restricts “the ability of Alabama women, including victims of rape and incest, to access safe and legal abortions.”
In June, when the suit against the law was filed, Republican state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, the legislation’s sponsor, told the Reuters news agency that the goal of the law was not to shutter clinics and that instead of filing suit, its opponents should be “bringing the clinics up to code.”