Alabama Law Putting Teens on Trial For Abortion Fought

An Alabama law that can put teenagers seeking an abortion on trial, with their parents questioning them, should be blocked because it’s unconstitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

The ACLU represents complainants in a federal lawsuit filed today in Montgomery, Alabama, claiming the state law breaches pregnant teens’ confidentiality rights. The group seeks an order invalidating the measure.

The new law changes the procedure for teenagers to bypass a state requirement for parental permission to get an abortion with a court order. Judges now must immediately notify local prosecutors of the teen’s application, may appoint a guardian to represent the fetus, and could allow parents to take part in any hearings.

“Some teens come from homes that are rife with abuse and severe neglect,” the ACLU lawyers said in the complaint. “For those teens in particular creating even more barriers to abortion can be dangerous.”

It’s the latest challenge to Alabama’s efforts to restrict abortion. A federal judge ruled in August that a law requiring abortion clinic doctors to have local hospital admitting privileges illegally limited women’s access to the procedure. Alabama appealed the decision.

The law, signed by Republican Governor Robert Bentley in April, took effect on July 1. It could prevent teenagers from having abortions or compel them to seek one that is illegal and unsafe, according to the complaint.

Ideal World

“In an ideal world, all teens would talk with their parents before having an abortion,” the ACLU said today in a statement. “We all know that, unfortunately, some just can’t.”

“My staff is reviewing the complaint,” State Attorney General Luther Strange said in an e-mailed statement. “It is my job to defend the laws of the state of Alabama and I will do so.”

Strange and Montgomery County prosecutor Daryl Bailey are the named defendants.

The case is Reproductive Health Services v. Strange, 14-cv-01014, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Alabama (Montgomery).

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