News Abortion

Alabama Democrats Filibuster TRAP Law

Robin Marty

The group slowed down the legislative process to protest a bill designed to greatly raise the cost of abortion, as well as a bill that would increase court fees.

Alabama Republicans may have fast-tracked anti-choice legislation out of committee this week, but Democrats fought back with a filibuster that stopped a TRAP bill from getting a vote.

Via the Associated Press:

Democrats in the Alabama House spent more than eight hours Thursday in delaying tactics.

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[Democratic Rep. Thomas Jackson of Thomasville] said Democrats were also concerned about a bill to add to the rules and regulations facing abortion clinics. “It’s just more government,” Jackson said.

Still, Republicans are looking for an opportunity to try again.

[Rep. Mary Sue] McClurkin said she will try again to bring the bill up for debate.

“This is so important for women’s health. I think we need to do everything we can to put these regulations in place,” McClurkin said.

News Law and Policy

Court Orders Trial in Challenge to Alabama TRAP Law

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The decision acknowledged that while there is "substantial" evidence to question the state's motive in passing an admitting privileges law under the guise of maternal health, a trial is still necessary to determine if the law is constitutional.

On Monday, a federal court ordered a trial in the legal challenge to an Alabama law that requires all abortion providers in the state to have admitting privileges at area hospitals.

The law, passed last year, had been blocked by the court since June, after reproductive rights organizations challenged its constitutionality. Attorneys for both the State of Alabama and the plaintiffs had asked the court to rule on the merits of the Alabama law without a trial, but the court declined to do so. In the order issued today, the court recognized that while the “plaintiffs have offered substantial evidence that this regulation does almost nothing to protect women’s health,” factual issues regarding the impact of the admitting privileges requirement remain, and those can only be resolved with a trial.

The three clinics challenging the law, which perform approximately 40 percent of all abortions in the state, say that should the law be allowed to go into effect only two clinics will remain open in the state. “This fight is far from over, and it’s a fight we are determined to win,” said Staci Fox, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, one of the organizations challenging the law, in a statement following the order. “If this dangerous law goes into effect, three-fifths of the licensed health centers that provide safe, legal abortion in Alabama would be forced to stop providing abortions immediately, leaving many women without access to safe, constitutionally protected medical care.”

The Alabama decision is the latest in a flurry of judicial opinions on the constitutionality of admitting privilege requirements. So far, courts have blocked similar state laws requiring physicians who provide abortion to obtain hospital admitting privileges from taking effect in Kansas, Wisconsin, and Mississippi. But, just last week the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Texas’ admitting privileges law.

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A trial date in the Alabama case has not yet been set. 

In the meantime, state lawmakers are wasting no time trying to pass even more abortion restrictions. This week, the Alabama Senate is scheduled to hear in committee a patently unconstitutional bill that could ban abortion as early as six weeks. The full state senate could also debate a bill that would double the state’s mandatory waiting period for an abortion to 48 hours, as early as tomorrow.

The Alabama legislative session adjourns on Monday, April 7.

News Abortion

CPAC Panelist: Abortion ‘Worse Than the Slave Trade or Jim Crow’

Emily Crockett

"Abortion has been worse on the African-American community than the slave trade or Jim Crow," said Robert Woodson, a panelist at a sparsely attended Conservative Political Action Conference panel on reaching out to more diverse voting populations.

Read more of our coverage on the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference here.

“Abortion has been worse on the African-American community than the slave trade or Jim Crow,” said Robert Woodson, a panelist at a sparsely attended Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) panel on reaching out to more diverse voting populations.

Woodson, founder of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, said that social issues like abortion were a better strategy for reaching out than assuming low-income or minority voters pick Democrats because they want handouts.

Woodson pushed back after the white moderator, Revolvis Consulting partner Jason Roe, said, “Democrats, using nonprofits and going into these communities, have lots of goodies to offer. And our guys aren’t exactly in the offering goodies business.”

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“It’s not ‘goodies,'” Woodson said. “It bothers me when people assume that lower-income people respond to gifts—food stamps, or things that are given to them. Nobody wants to be dependent. So let’s assume that people want a hand up, and not a handout.”

But Woodson and the other three speakers on the all-male panel (two panelists, including Woodson, were Black, and two were white), all said that Republicans should “renew our commitment to communicating how our policies will help,” as Roe put it, rather than “moderate our policies.”

Conservatives often invoke historical racism as an argument for ending safe, legal abortion care. Earlier this week, Alabama state Rep.Mary McClurkin (R-Indian Springs) came under fire from her Black colleagues after she compared a bill that would ban abortion before many women know they are pregnant to the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case that ended legal segregation in the United States.