The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Southeast are filing a federal lawsuit in an attempt to stop Alabama's new law that places stricter regulations on abortion clinics.
The organizations filed the suit Tuesday in Montgomery saying the regulations are medically unnecessary and will force most of the clinics in the state to shut down.
Governor Robert Bentley's office said it could not comment on the suit because it has not received a copy.
"This is an important law to protect the health and
safety of Alabamians, and my office will vigorously defend it," said Attorney General Luther Strange.
Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) issued a statement calling Planned Parenthood "hypocritical" adding the organization, "claim[s] to be a 'trusted healthcare provider' on its website while opposing a law that ensures women are treated in the safest and healthiest environment possible. When ultra-liberal, extremist groups like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood take you to court, I think it's a sign that we're on the right track."
The law requires every physician performing an abortion at a clinic to have staff privileges at a local hospital.The law is similar to legislation in Mississippi where a federal district court blocked its implementation earlier in the year.
There are five licensed abortion clinics in Alabama. Three of those clinics, Planned Parenthood centers in Birmingham and Mobile, and Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery, would be in danger of ending abortion procedures. Only facilities in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa would remain, according to the organizations filing suit.
"By forcing most of the abortion clinics in the state to stop providing abortions, this law will make it impossible for some women to get this essential care," said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. "Politicians have no business placing ideology over the health care needs of Alabama's women by interfering in one of the most personal, private decisions a woman can make."
Republicans have touted the legislation as a way of making abortion's safer, but opposition groups say the measure seeks to end abortions in the state.
"Since the U.S. Supreme Court unfortunately allows abortion to remain legal, this law is imperative to ensure that the procedure is performed in the most safe and healthy environment possible," Hubbard said at the bill's signing in April.
"If an abortion clinic is truly dedicated to providing adequate care, ensuring dependable safeguards and putting patients' needs before profits, it will embrace this legislation rather than oppose it," added the law's sponsor, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Indian Springs) at that signing.
McClurkin says she's surprised the clinics chose to go to court rather than upgrade their facilities.
The lawsuit comes on the same day that Alabama's most powerful female politician, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, announces she's joining the National Pro-Life Women's Caucus.
Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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