Justices won’t revive Alabama ban on abortion procedure

Legal Analysis

The Supreme Court won’t revive Alabama’s attempt to ban the most commonly used procedure in second-trimester abortions after the measure was blocked by lower courts.

The justices on Friday rejected the state’s appeal and declined to review a lower court ruling that blocked the law. The 2016 Alabama law sought to ban the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation, a procedure Alabama referred to in court filings as “dismemberment abortion.”

Lower courts have blocked similar laws in Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, but this was the first case to go before the Supreme Court, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the Alabama law.

Court records show 93% of abortions in Alabama occur before 15 weeks of pregnancy. For the 7% of abortions that occur later, almost all are by dilation and evacuation.

Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said the ban would have effectively ended access to second trimester abortions in Alabama if it had been allowed to take effect.

“We are not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision to deny reviewing this case. In doing so, they are upholding the Supreme Court’s own precedent in protecting a woman’s right to access the healthcare she needs. A woman’s health, not Alabama politicians, should drive personal medical decisions,” Marshall said.

Planned Parenthood said the decision was a victory for abortion access in the state, but warned of the continuing push to enact new restrictions on abortion.

“This is a major victory for Alabamians and people everywhere. The courts have for now protected our constitutional right to access abortion. But the fight is far from over,” said Staci Fox, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Southeast.

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