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Alabama Governor Opposes Stay of Law on Abortion Doctors

June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Alabama Governor Robert Bentley urged a court not to delay a state law from taking effect July 1 that will make it a crime to have abortions performed by doctors who don’t have staff privileges at local hospitals.

The three abortion clinics that sued, out of a total of five in the state, are unlikely to succeed on their claim that the law is unconstitutional, Bentley said in his opposition to the three clinics’ request for a temporary restraining order filed yesterday in federal court in Montgomery.

The request “is emphatically not an attempt to protect their patients’ rights,” Bentley said. “It is instead their attempt to freeze, in constitutional amber, the particular way they are currently doing business.”

Bentley, a Republican, signed the measure, the Women’s Health and Safety Act, into law on April 9. He said the other two clinics that didn’t sue were providing more abortions than the three that did and were already using doctors with hospital-admitting privileges.

In North Dakota, the state’s only abortion clinic sued yesterday to block enforcement of laws that would bar abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected and ban using the procedure for sex selection or because of genetic flaws.

Republican Governor

The provisions, signed into law in March by North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, take effect Aug. 1, unless they are halted by a court.

The Center for Reproductive Rights sued in federal court in Bismarck on behalf of the clinic, which seeks a ruling that the bans are unconstitutional and an injunction barring their enforcement.

“The bans prohibit abortions prior to viability in violation of clearly established United States Supreme Court precedent that protect the substantive due process rights of women seeking abortions,” according to the complaint.

The ban on abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected would restrict the procedure to as early as six weeks into pregnancy, according to the filing.

Sixth Week

The plaintiff Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo said it provides abortion care to women until 16 weeks of pregnancy. About 89 percent of the clinic’s patients have abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit names as defendants members of the North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners and the state attorney general.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s press secretary, Liz Brocker, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The North Dakota case is MKB Management Corp. d/b/a Red River Women’s Clinic v. Burdick, U.S. District court, District of North Dakota (Bismarck).

The Alabama case is Planned Parenthood Southeast Inc. v. Bentley, 13-cv-00405, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama (Montgomery).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in the Los Angeles federal court house at +1- epettersson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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