A U.S. state's law restricting doctors at abortion clinics is unconstitutional because it would unduly hamper women's ability to obtain the medical procedure, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, in a 172-page opinion and an accompanying order, said Alabama state lawmakers exceeded their authority when they passed a law last year requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges.
Thompson extended an earlier order blocking enforcement of the law and said he would issue a final order after considering more written arguments from lawyers.
The case is the latest in the decades-long struggle by some social conservatives to chip away at a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion. The issue remains one of the country's most sensitive, politically and otherwise, with various challenges in a number of states.
The decision came days after a federal appeals court blocked a similar law in Mississippi.
And on Monday, abortion providers in Texas asked a federal judge to stop a new law that they say will leave just eight facilities statewide where women can legally terminate a pregnancy after Sept. 1.
Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said the law wasn't designed to protect women, as supporters maintain.
"Major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, oppose them," she said of the Alabama law and similar ones.
The state attorney general's office did not have any immediate comment on the decision.
The law's sponsor, Republican Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin of Indian Springs, said the measure would make the clinics safer, while clinic operators said it was an attempt to shut them down through a regulation they could not meet.