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Judge rules Alabama can't ban abortions amid pandemic

Abortion rights supporters demonstrate during the 'Stop Abortion Bans Day of Action' rally at the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 2019. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Abortion rights supporters demonstrate during the 'Stop Abortion Bans Day of Action' rally at the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 21, 2019. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

April 13 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Alabama has issued a preliminary injunction against the state from banning medical professionals from performing abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued the ruling Sunday, extending an earlier injunction that was to expire on Monday.

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The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama on behalf of Dr. Yashica Robinson, three independent abortion clinics and abortion supporters following the March 27 executive order by the state halting all elective surgical procedures, including abortions, from being performed during the pandemic.

In his 56-page opinion, Thompson wrote that the possible implications of a postponed abortion were "deeply troubling" and that the medical restrictions would "amplify existing challenges, pose severe health risks and render abortions functionally unavailable for at least some women."

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"The defendants' efforts to combat COVID-19 do not outweigh the lasting harm imposed by the denial of an individual's right to terminate her pregnancy, by an undue burden or increase in risk on patients imposed by a delayed procedure or by the cloud of unwarranted prosecution against providers," Thompson wrote in his opinion.

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproduction Freedom Project, said in a statement that Thompson's decision will ensure that Alabama citizens will continue to have access abortions to protect their health during the coronavirus crisis.

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"Preventing someone from getting an abortion doesn't do anything to stop the COVID-19 virus, it just takes the decision whether to have a child out of their hands," Kolbi-Molinas said.

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The decision came nearly two weeks after Thompson and judges in Ohio and Texas blocked the states from enforcing a ban on abortions during the pandemic.

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