Photo | Lagniappe
Planned Parenthood is suing the state over its recently passed abortion law, but at the same time its Mobile location will be closed more most of the year.
While Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama (ACLU) announced Friday, May 24 it is suing the state over its near-total abortion ban, at the same time, Mobile-Baldwin area women will be without local clinic services for the foreseeable future.
Planned Parenthood Southeast spokesperson Barbara Ann Luttrell confirmed the clinic on Downtowner Loop in Mobile is temporarily closed for complete renovations. The renovations, she said, are not due to state law.
“It’s just an old building,” Luttrell said. “It just needed renovations. It was just time.”
It’s unclear how long the clinic will be closed. Luttrell said it should open sometime in late 2019.
In the meantime, Planned Parenthood is referring Mobile-area patients to New Orleans, Pensacola, Montgomery or Tuscaloosa clinics, depending on location and medical needs, she said. Planned Parenthood does not track its referrals, Luttrell said, so it’s unclear how many local patients have been sent elsewhere.
In addition to providing abortion services, Planned Parenthood clinics provide sexually transmitted diseases testing and treatment, birth control and sex education, as well as low-cost routine services such as cholesterol screenings, blood pressure screenings, physical exams and other healthcare services, according to its website.
The nonprofit has recently announced a lawsuit against the state over a newly passed law, which bans abortion in nearly every case and punishes doctors with up to 99 years in prison for providing care.
“The Alabama legislature has been pushing abortion care further and further out of reach for years with medically unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions, and this extreme abortion ban shows us just how far they’ll go to push their anti-abortion agenda,” ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas said in a statement. “This law is blatantly unconstitutional, and the ACLU will not stand by while politicians emboldened by President [Donald J.] Trump’s anti-abortion agenda exploit our health and our lives for political gain.”
The complaint was filed in federal court in Montgomery. The lawsuit comes amid nationwide opposition to Alabama’s ban and follows a week of protests throughout the country opposing state abortion law changes. Earlier this year, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio and Mississippi also enacted laws restricting abortion and the Missouri governor is expected to sign another law soon.
The ACLU has already obtained an injunction against the Kentucky law. The ACLU, together with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has also filed suit against the law in Ohio and is preparing a legal challenge in Georgia. No abortion law changes, including Alabama’s, are in effect and abortion remains legal in all 50 states, according to a Planned Parenthood statement.
The lawsuit also comes after State Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, sponsored a bill seeking to repeal the new abortion ban.
Figures’ bill has been introduced in the Senate and referred to the chamber’s committee on healthcare. The bill highlights pushback on the law from both sides of the political aisle and highlights calls from other states to forbid travel to the state, or otherwise harm it economically. The bill also calls legal battles caused by it being enacted “unfaithful.”
“This law has been immediately criticized as one of the strictest abortion laws in the country and even religious conservatives have questioned the lack of reasonable exceptions to the prohibition; for example, televangelist Pat Robertson has labeled the law as ‘extreme’ and concludes that Alabama has ‘gone too far,’” the bill states. “The overreach of this law has already served as the catalyst for a tarnished view of our state, which will only serve to negatively impact tourism and our economy …. Proponents of the law readily concede that the law is unconstitutional under existing [case law] and is headed for a long and expensive court battle, which will, in turn, unnecessarily cost the taxpayers of this state.”
The bill also highlights a “rural healthcare crisis” and a “health insurance crisis” in the state, as more than 140,000 Alabamians are uninsured or without access to proper healthcare.
It also follows a weekend full of protests statewide, including two in Mobile’s Bienville Square. Organized by members of the Mobile County Green Party, the pro-choice demonstrations included speakers, signs and a march through downtown.
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