published Monday, May 19th, 2014

Federal court trial takes up Alabama abortion law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal court trial begins today over an Alabama abortion law that proponents say will make abortions safer and opponents say will close three of Alabama's five licensed abortion clinics.

Planned Parenthood Southeast and the American Civil Liberties Union are challenging the 2013 law, which requires doctors at abortion clinics to have approval to admit patients to nearby hospitals.

Clinics operated by Planned Parenthood Southeast in Birmingham and Mobile and Reproductive Health Systems in Montgomery say they will have to close because they use traveling doctors without admitting privileges. The West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa and the Alabama Women's Center in Huntsville use local doctors who have admitting privileges at hospitals in those cities.

Proponents of the law say problems arise because traveling doctors remain in a city only a few hours and aren't around to handle complications.

"The evidence at trial will show that abortion clinics have continued to fail to provide appropriate care to their patients in line with industry standards," state Solicitor General Andrew Brasher said in a court filing.

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