[JURIST] Alabama Governor Robert Bentley [official website] signed two pieces of legislation restricting abortion into law on Thursday. The two laws, SB 205 and SB 363 [materials], prevent the issuance or renewal of health center licenses “to abortion clinics or reproductive health centers performing abortions located within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school” and prohibit dilation and evacuation abortions, respectively. The first of these bills is likely to close down [Montgomery Advertiser report] two of the state’s abortion clinics, the two of which accounted “for 72 percent of all abortion procedures in Alabama in 2014.” Dilation and evacuation abortions, in which forceps are used to remove fetal body parts, was denounced by those in opposition, who refer to the process as “dismemberment abortion.” Despite this opposition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) stated that the procedure is generally safer than medical abortions. Banning this procedure would result in a significant lessening of second-trimester abortions.
Abortion procedures and reproductive rights issues [JURIST backgrounder] are controversial topics throughout the US. Earlier this month Louisiana lawmakers approved legislation [JURIST report] requiring a 72-hour waiting period before receiving an abortion. In April the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed suit [JURIST report] against the state of Indiana, challenging the constitutionality of a recently signed abortion law. In March Utah became the first state to require doctors to administer anesthesia [JURIST report] to women receiving an abortion after 20 weeks. In March a district court judge blocked [JURIST report] Arkansas from enforcing a bill mandating abortion pill providers follow US Food and Drug Administration guidelines and requiring hospital admittance privileges to handle complications. Also in March West Virginia lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto to enact a new law [JURIST report] that prevents the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure, widely held to be the safest second-trimester abortion method. The same day, South Dakota’s governor signed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protections Act, which bans abortions after 20 weeks.