Alabama Prohibited From Banning Abortions During Coronavirus Pandemic, Federal Judge Rules

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On Sunday, a federal judge blocked the state of Alabama from banning abortions as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, reported CBS.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson passed a preliminary injunction against the state for attempting to include abortions in the temporary ban against elective medical procedures. The judge declared that the decision about whether an abortion could wait would be up to the medical providers of the clinic providing the service. Thompson explained that Alabama’s efforts to fight the spread of the virus would not outweigh the suffering caused by restricting an individual’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

“Based on the current record, the defendants’ efforts to combat COVID-19 do not outweigh the lasting harm imposed by the denial of an individual’s right to terminate her pregnancy, by an undue burden or increase in risk on patients imposed by a delayed procedure, or by the cloud of unwarranted prosecution against providers.”

Alabama is not the only state attempting to ban abortions during the pandemic. Lawsuits have also been filed in Texas, Ohio, and Oklahoma, among other states. The states seeking a ban on abortion argue that it would conserve medical equipment and open up hospital beds for those infected by the virus.

The lawyer who defended the clinics seeking the injunction, Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, was pleased with Thompson’s ruling. She commented that preventing someone from getting an abortion doesn’t do anything to stop the COVID-19 virus, it just takes the decision whether to have a child out of a woman’s hands. Kolbi-Molinas is a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, commented on the emergency abortion bans being implemented by several U.S. states, according to the official website of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“These emergency abortion bans are an abuse of power and part of an ongoing effort to use sham justifications to shut down clinics and make an end run around  Roe v. Wade.”

Northup added that the states attempting to shut down clinics are the same ones that have been attempting to ban abortion access for years. She declared the organization would be taking every legal means possible to ensure abortion care remains available during this critical time.

The Associated Press has attempted to reach out to the Alabama attorney general’s office for a statement on the ruling, but has not yet received a response.