Both sides of abortion debate cite agendas in arguments

Published: Apr. 1, 2014 at 1:42 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2014 at 8:29 PM CDT
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Pro-life advocates like Pastor James Henderson said the law is constitutional and is a leap...
Pro-life advocates like Pastor James Henderson said the law is constitutional and is a leap forward for women's safety.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A federal judge said he will bring Alabama's new abortion law to trial. The law requires abortion clinic doctors have approval to admit patients to nearby hospitals.

US District Judge Myron Thompson ruled Monday that the trial will address one issue – whether the law violated the due process rights of women seeking abortions.

The judge disregarded all other issues raised by Planned Parenthood and the other clinics that sued the state. Opponents said the law would force clinics to essentially close their doors. The groups that filed suit said the law puts forth unreasonably strict regulations for building codes and other health standards, such as requiring abortion doctors to have approval to admit patients to hospitals nearby.

Pro-life advocates said the law is constitutional and is a leap forward for women's safety. Pastor James Henderson said he is confident in the court system. "The law should be upheld. I think you have to question Planned Parenthood's motives. They are all about making money and they are not very objective in their stand," he said.

Henderson went on to say that the "real issue here is a woman's access to abortion. We don't believe abortion is proper in any sense, but given that any doctor in the state can do up to 100 abortions a year, there is no question that a woman is able to obtain" one.

Pro-choice advocates like Katie Norlin, who volunteers as an escort for Huntsville's controversial abortion clinic, saw the judge's decision to take part of the abortion law to trial promising. "It's a step in the right direction," she said.

Clinic supporters said an airing of the issues could reveal an agenda simply to make abortions harder to get, something the judge has already said would not be acceptable.

Both sides have a close eye on Texas' almost identical abortion restrictions, which just last week were upheld by a 5th District federal appeals court.

"As we go through higher-level courts and it gets argued at higher levels, I have very high hopes that these will be overturned," said Norlin.

"Given the precedent of the Texas decision, [there is] a good likelihood that any decision opposed to life would be overturned at the appellate level," said Henderson.

Clinic supporters head back to the state capitol Tuesday, where the Senate is about to start hearings on new abortion restrictions, including a provision that would ban abortions if doctors can detect an unborn baby's heartbeat.

A date for the trial has not yet been announced.

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