In spite of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade has guaranteed American women the right to an abortion for over 40 years, some states continue to try to pass restrictive legislation designed to make it harder for women to seek safe abortions. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court blocked a series of laws in Texas, Louisiana and Missouri that forced family planning clinics to close by requiring doctors who performed abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. As a result of these laws, women in Missouri traveled an average of 100 miles round trip to reach the state’s only Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis.
Now, a federal judge has blocked two more laws in Alabama that place different kinds of restrictions on abortion clinics. The first law prohibits clinics from being within 2,000 feet of K-8 public schools. The second law bans a procedure used to induce abortions in the second trimester. In his ruling, Judge Myron Thompson noted that the laws could force clinics in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa to close, and put an undue—and potentially dangerous—burden on women seeking abortions. He also noted that “This burden would become particularly devastating for low-income women” who would need to take long trips to get to one of Alabama’s three remaining clinics.
In light of these concerns, Judge Thompson issued a preliminary injunction and ruled that the laws were likely to be found unconstitutional. The laws, which were signed in May, were set to go into effect on August 1. Thanks to Thompson’s ruling, however, the clinics in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa will remain open, and women in Alabama will continue to be able to access to safe abortions.