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Alabama federal judge to hold trial on abortion law

[JURIST] Judge Myron Thompson of the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama [official website] announced on Monday that he would hold a trial on Alabama's new law requiring abortion clinic to have approval to admit patients to nearby hospitals. The Women's Health and Safety Act [text], which was signed into law [JURIST report] last April, requires abortion clinics to meet unprecedented medical standards that supporters argue will protect women from unsanitary conditions. Last year Thompson delayed enforcement [JURIST report] of the law until March 2014. The American Civil Liberties Union, which initiated the challenge to the Alabama law along with Planned Parenthood [advocacy websitew], argues [press release] that the law singles out abortion providers for unnecessary and burdensome restrictions with the purpose of effectively ending abortion in the state.

Abortion continues to be a hot-button legal issue throughout the US, with a number of states proposing laws to limit reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder]. On Friday West Virginia's Governor vetoed a bill [JURIST report] that would have banned abortions later than 20 weeks after conception. On Thursday the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a Texas law similar to the one enacted in Alabama that requires physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Also last week the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the Kansas legislature can withhold federal funding for two Planned Parenthood clinics.

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