Tuscaloosa clinic files lawsuit against Alabama over threats to prosecute health providers who offer abortion info

Abortion Protest

The West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa alongside Alabama’s Yellowhammer Fund have filed lawsuits against the state of Alabama seeking assurance that women who travel across state lines for abortion care and Alabama health care providers who assist them will not be prosecuted.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has threatened in the past that health care providers who help Alabamians seeking to travel out of state for legal abortion care could face felony charges.

Because of Marshall’s threat, the lawsuit says, health care providers have been forced to stop offering critical information, counseling or practical support to Alabamians seeking an abortion in a state where it remains legal.

Sharing information regarding quality out-of-state abortion care providers or information about financial or practical assistance for out-of-state abortion care is essential for patients’ vital care, the lawsuit says.

“As a result of the Attorney General’s threat, my staff cannot provide vital information and recommendations regarding legal medical care in other states, despite their expertise and professional knowledge as to which out-of-state providers are best suited to each patient’s specific medical circumstances, because they know that to do so is to open themselves up to potential arrest and prosecution,” said West Alabama Women’s Center Operations Director Robin Marty in a statement. “When we cannot share information with patients about all of their options during pregnancy, including those options that are legal and available outside Alabama, the physician-patient relationship is put in jeopardy and our patients are harmed.”

Alabama has the third-highest maternal mortality rate in the country, and Black women make up a disproportionate share of maternal deaths in the state.

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Alabama filed the lawsuit, West Alabama Women’s Center, el al. v. Marshall, et al., in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama in Montgomery on behalf of West Alabama Women’s Center, Dr. Yashica Robinson and Alabama Women’s Center.

“The attorney general’s threat to prosecute people for assisting and supporting Alabamians in seeking out-of-state abortion care is as dangerous as it is blatantly unconstitutional,” said ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project staff attorney Meagan Burrows in a statement. “When Marshall threatens criminal liability for anyone who facilitates interstate travel for legal abortion care, his purpose is clear: to extend Alabama’s abortion ban across state lines and discourage and burden the free movement of Alabamians. We are hopeful the court will recognize that the threatened prosecutions far exceed the limits of the state’s powers, and will ensure that pregnant Alabamians can once again access information and support for all their legal options.”

A similar case, also filed today, was filed in the same court by the Lawyering Project on behalf of the Yellowhammer Fund. According to that lawsuit, the Yellowhammer Fund has been unable to provide funding or practical support to pregnant Alabamians seeking out-of-state abortion care because of criminal prosecution threats.

Categories: Alabama News, Local News