Fate of Missouri’s only abortion clinic at stake as St. Louis judge holds hearing

A banner stating "STILL HERE" hangs on the side of the Planned Parenthood Building after a judge granted a temporary restraining order on the closing of Missouri's sole remaining Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

(Reuters) – The fate of Missouri’s only abortion clinic will be at stake on Tuesday when a St. Louis judge hears arguments in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit aimed at forcing state health officials to renew the facility’s license to perform the procedure.

Planned Parenthood sued Missouri last week after state health officials refused to renew the license of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis because, they said, they were unable to interview seven of its physicians over “potential deficient practices,” according to court documents.

Abortion is one of the most socially divisive issues in U.S. politics, with opponents often citing religious beliefs to call it immoral. Abortion-rights advocates say the bans amount to state control of women’s bodies.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer intervened on Friday before the clinic’s license to perform abortions was set to expire at midnight. He issued a temporary restraining order against the state at the request of Planned Parenthood, allowing the clinic to continue offering the procedure.

Stelzer will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning on motions filed by Planned Parenthood in its request for a preliminary injunction that would keep the clinic open longer. He could schedule more hearings or rule on the request.

If the facility’s license is not renewed, Missouri would become the only U.S. state without an abortion clinic since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

The legal battle in St. Louis began after Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a bill on May 24 banning abortion beginning in the eighth week of pregnancy, making Missouri one of nine U.S. states to pass anti-abortion legislation this year.

Anti-abortion activists say they aim to prompt the newly installed conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade by enacting laws such as the one recently passed in Missouri that are virtually assured of facing court challenges.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in CHICAGO; Editing by Paul Tait)

Missouri abortion clinic to stay open for now after court order

Pro-Life supporters protest outside of Planned Parenthood as a deadline looms to renew the license of Missouri's sole remaining Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

By Pavithra George

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – Missouri’s only abortion clinic will stay open at least a few more days after a judge on Friday granted a request by Planned Parenthood for a temporary restraining order, allowing the facility to keep operating until a hearing on Tuesday.

Planned Parenthood sued Missouri this week after state health officials said the license for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis was in jeopardy, meaning the clinic could have closed at midnight unless the judge granted the request for a temporary restraining order.

“Today is a victory for women across Missouri, but this fight is far from over,” Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen said in a statement after Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer agreed to the organization’s request.

Representatives for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services could not be immediately reached for comment.

Health officials had refused to renew the clinic’s license because, they said, they were unable to interview seven of its physicians over “potential deficient practices,” according to documents filed in a St. Louis court.

The legal battle in St. Louis comes a week after Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a bill banning abortion beginning in the eighth week of pregnancy, making Missouri one of nine U.S. states to pass anti-abortion legislation this year.

On Friday, Stelzer said the clinic’s license would remain in effect until a ruling is made on Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction against the state. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Outside the clinic on Friday, a handful of anti-abortion protesters stood holding “Choose Life” signs.

Abortion is one of the most socially divisive issues in U.S. politics, with opponents often citing religious beliefs to call it immoral, while abortion-rights advocates say the bans amount to state control of women’s bodies.

Anti-abortion activists say they aim to prompt the newly installed conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade by enacting laws that are virtually assured of facing court challenges.

 

(Additional reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)

Judge upholds New York City’s mandatory measles vaccination order

FILE PHOTO: Materials are seen left at demonstration by people opposed to childhood vaccination after officials in Rockland County, a New York City suburb, banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces, in West Nyack, New York, U.S. March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Brooklyn judge on Thursday ruled against a group of parents who challenged New York City’s recently imposed mandatory measles vaccination order, rejecting their arguments that the city’s public health authority exceeded its authority.

In a six-page decision rendered hours after a hearing on the matter, Judge Lawrence Knipel denied the parents’ petition seeking to lift the vaccination order, imposed last week to stem the worst measles outbreak to hit the city since 1991.

The judge sided with municipal health officials who defended the order as a rare but necessary step to contain a surge in the highly contagious disease that has infected at least 329 people so far, most of them children from Orthodox Jewish communities in the borough of Brooklyn.

Another 222 cases have been diagnosed elsewhere in New York state, mostly in a predominantly ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Rockland County, northwest of Manhattan.

The New York outbreaks are part of a larger resurgence of measles across the country, with at least 555 cases confirmed in 20 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health experts say the virus, which can cause severe complications and even death, has spread mostly among school-age children whose parents declined to get them vaccinated. Most profess philosophical or religious reasons or cite concerns – debunked by medical science – that the three-way measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may cause autism.

The judge rejected the parents’ contention that the vaccination order was excessive or coercive, noting that it does not call for forcibly administering the vaccine to those who refuse it.

Under the public health emergency declared last Tuesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, residents of certain affected Brooklyn neighborhoods who refuse orders to obtain an MMR vaccine face fines unless they can otherwise demonstrate immunity to measles or provide a valid medical exemption.

The court challenge was filed in Brooklyn’s Supreme Court on behalf of five mothers and their children in the affected neighborhoods. Their identities were kept confidential to protect the children’s privacy, their lawyers said.

They told Knipel in court on Thursday the city had overstepped its authority and that quarantining the infected would be a preferable approach.

Robert Krakow, an attorney for the parents, estimated that just 0.0006 percent of the population of Brooklyn and Queens had measles. “That’s not an epidemic,” he said. “It’s not Ebola. It’s not smallpox.”

The health department’s lawyers argued that quarantining was ineffective because people carrying the virus can be contagious before symptoms appear.

The judge cited 39 cases diagnosed in Michigan that have been traced to an individual traveling from the Williamsburg community at the epicenter of Brooklyn’s outbreak. The surge in measles there originated with an unvaccinated child who became infected on a visit to Israel, where the highly contagious virus is also running rampant.

Krakow later told Reuters he was reviewing the judge’s dismissal of the case – brought under special proceedings for the appeal of administrative actions – to determine how his clients might respond.

The number of measles cases worldwide nearly quadrupled in the first quarter of 2019 to 112,163 compared with the same period last year, the World Health Organization said this week.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Berkrot and G Crosse)

U.S. judge extends ban of online 3-D printed gun blueprints

By Tina Bellon

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday extended a ban on the online distribution of 3-D printed gun blueprints, a win for a group of mainly Democratic-led states that said such a publication would violate their right to regulate firearms and endanger their citizens.

U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle issued the extension of a nationwide injunction, blocking a Texas-based group from disseminating files for printing plastic weapons on the internet.

Lasnik’s prior order issued on July 31 blocked the release of the blueprints hours before they were set to hit the internet. That temporary ban was set to expire on Tuesday and the new ban will remain in place until the case is resolved.

Monday’s decision blocks a settlement President Donald Trump’s administration had reached with Defense Distributed, a group arguing that access to the online blueprints is guaranteed under First and Second Amendment rights, respectively to free speech and to bear arms.

A group of 19 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in July sued the U.S. government, arguing that publishing blueprints would allow criminals easy access to weapons. They also said the Trump administration had failed to explain why it settled the case.

Lasnik said the states have submitted sufficient evidence that they are likely to suffer “irreparable harm” if the blueprints are published. The judge also said Defense Distributed’s First Amendment concerns were “dwarfed” by the states’ safety considerations.

Defense Distributed had put the files on the internet a few days before Lasnik issued the initial temporary ban and the blueprints continue to be available on several other online websites.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Marguerita Choy)

Judge revokes bond for Nashville shooting suspect after public outcry

Travis Reinking, the suspect in a Waffle House shooting in Nashville, is under arrest by Metro Nashville Police Department in a wooded area in Antioch, Tennessee, U.S., April 23, 2018. Courtesy Metro Nashville Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) – A Tennessee judge on Tuesday revoked a $2 million bond set for the man accused of opening fire at a Nashville-area Waffle House restaurant, killing four people, while new details emerged of the suspect’s struggles with paranoia and delusions.

Davidson County Judge Michael Mondelli did not give a reason for overturning the bond order issued by a night magistrate following the arrest of Travis Reinking, but his decision followed a public outcry over the possibility that the suspect could potentially be freed from jail.

The Nashville District Attorney’s office was “inundated with calls” from angry members of the public saying the shooting rampage suspect should not be released under any circumstances, spokesman Steve Hayslip said.

“The fact that he might be able to bond out set that fear and panic back in their hearts again,” Hayslip said.

Reinking, a 29-year-old construction worker with a history of erratic behavior and brushes with the law, was captured in woods outside Nashville on Monday after more than a day on the run and charged with four counts of murder.

A hearing set in the case for Wednesday was postponed until May 7. Jon Wing, a Davidson County public defender representing Reinking, did not respond to a request for comment.

Police say a nearly naked Reinking opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday at the Waffle House restaurant.

The gunman, who began shooting outside before moving inside, aborted his attack and fled when a customer, 29-year-old James Shaw Jr., wrestled the rifle from him in what authorities called an act of heroism.

Police say they still did not know what motivated the attack and that Reinking was not speaking to investigators.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall told reporters on Tuesday that the suspect was under medical observation and a suicide watch.

“We have to protect other inmates from him,” Hall said. “And we have to protect him from other inmates.”

Previous brushes with law enforcement show that Reinking appeared to struggle with delusions of being stalked by people, including pop star Taylor Swift.

Former colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Crane Service where Reinking worked in Salida, Colorado, told a Salida Police Department investigator this week that he was intelligent and quiet, but they worried about his mental health.

They described him as a loner who often played video games, especially ones that involve shooting, and that he was obsessed with Swift, according to a report released by Salida police. Reinking lived in Salida for six months starting in late 2016.

Reinking told everyone he was gay, which two colleagues said appeared to contradict his claims that he would someday marry the 28-year-old female singer.

“Travis was a good kid, very polite and a hard worker but a little off. It’s just unfortunate that he snapped,” John Turley, a mechanic at the Crane service, told Reuters in a telephone interview. “As the laws are written, he never should have had a gun. I feel sorry for everybody who is suffering.”

Reinking moved to Nashville in 2017 from Illinois. The U.S. Secret Service said it arrested him in Washington in July of last year after he attempted to get into the White House.

After that episode, authorities in Illinois revoked his gun license and confiscated four firearms, including what police said was the rifle used in the Waffle House shooting.

The guns were given to his father, Jeffrey Reinking, who told police he would lock them up and keep them away from his son at their home in Tazewell County, Illinois.

But the elder Reinking eventually returned the weapons to his son, Nashville police said on Sunday. The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office never took custody of the guns and was not investigating the matter, Chief Deputy Jeffrey Lower said in an email.

Marcus Watson, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Reinking’s father could face federal charges if he knowingly transferred weapons to a person who was prohibited from owning them. Jeffrey Reinking could not be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Brendan O’Brien and Keith Coffman; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool)

Judge denies motion to drop case against widow of Orlando gunman

FILE PHOTO: Investigators work the scene following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, U.S. on June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

By Joey Roulette

ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) – A judge on Monday denied a defense motion to dismiss charges against the widow of the gunman in the 2016 massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, saying that the gunman’s father’s work an FBI informant was not relevant to the case.

Over the weekend, prosecutors disclosed that Omar Mateen’s father, Seddique, had worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before his son carried out the massacre of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in June 2016.

In opening their case, lawyers for Mateen’s widow, Noor Salman, argued that the judge should dismiss the charges against her or declare a mistrial because prosecutors had failed to reveal the FBI’s relationship to Mateen’s father and other evidence related to him beforehand.

Salman, 31, is accused of helping her husband carry out surveillance of possible attack sites and doing nothing to stop him. Mateen, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent who claimed allegiance to a member of the Islamic State militant group, was killed by police after more than three hours in the Pulse nightclub.

An FBI agent on Monday testified that years before Mateen carried out the attack, the agency considered using him as an informant, like his father.

Those discussions took place while the FBI was investigating comments made by the younger Mateen about overseas links to militants, Special Agent Juvenal Martin said in federal court in Orlando. That investigation closed without charges, he said.

Martin did not say why the FBI decided against enlisting Omar Mateen as an informant.

Salman’s attorneys say that the disclosure by prosecutors that Seddique Mateen had been an informant from January 2005 to June 2016 violated a Supreme Court ruling barring prosecutors from withholding evidence.

After resting their case, prosecutors said agents probing the nightclub rampage found receipts of money transfers made from the United States to Turkey and Afghanistan made by the elder Mateen. An active investigation was under way, they said.

If the defense had known about the transfers, it would have investigated whether Seddique Mateen was involved in the attack or had prior knowledge of it, Fritz Scheller, a lawyer for Salman, said in the motion to dismiss.

But U.S. District Judge Paul Byron said, “It is not clear whether the purpose of the transfers was illegal.”

He said the omission of any evidence related to Seddique Mateen had no bearing on the culpability of Salman.

Salman faces possible life in prison if convicted on charges of aiding her husband in the attack and obstructing an investigation.

(Reporting by Joey Roulette; Additional reporting and writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler)

Federal judge blocks Down syndrome abortion ban in Ohio

Supporters of Planned Parenthood (L) rally next to anti-abortion activists outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – A federal judge on Wednesday blocked an Ohio law due to take effect later this month that would criminalize abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis, ruling that it violates a woman’s right to choose.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Black’s decision came after the Ohio state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court in Cincinnati, arguing the legislation violated the liberty and privacy clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“Because H.B. 214 prevents women from making the choice to terminate their pregnancy prior to viability, it is unconstitutional on its face,” Black wrote in his 22-page ruling.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21.

Under the legislation, signed into law by Republican Governor John Kasich last December, doctors would lose their medical licenses in the state and face a fourth-degree felony charge if they were to perform an abortion with that knowledge.

Mothers would not face criminal charges.

“The Down syndrome abortion ban violates four and a half decades of legal precedent that says a woman has the unfettered right to choose whether to end a pregnancy before the point of viability,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said in a statement.

A spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Wednesday that his office was planning to defend the law passed by the state’s majority of Republican lawmakers.

“While we are reviewing this ruling to determine further action, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office will continue to vigorously defend Ohio law,” spokesman Dan Tierney said.

The Ohio law marks the 20th restriction on abortion and reproductive rights signed by Kasich since 2011, according to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

Similar laws have been passed in Indiana and North Dakota. An Indiana District Court issued a permanent injunction on a similar Down syndrome abortion ban on Sept. 22, 2017.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Lisa Shumaker)

Victims’ father charges at ex-U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor in court

Randall Margraves (L) lunges at Larry Nassar,(wearing orange) a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, during victim statements of his sentencing in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan, U.S., February 2, 2018.

(Editor’s Note: Please be advised that this story contains language in fifth paragraph that may offend some readers)

By Steve Friess

(Reuters) – The enraged father of three daughters sexually abused by Larry Nassar charged toward the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor and tried to attack him during a sentencing hearing in a Michigan courtroom on Friday.

He was nearly within striking distance of Nassar before court guards tackled him roughly to the ground in front of his shocked daughters.

The chaotic scene began after sisters Lauren and Madison Margraves had finished tearfully reading their victim statements on the second day of hearings at a court in Eaton County, much as nearly 200 women have done before them at earlier hearings. Standing alongside his daughters and wife, Randall Margraves, a tall man with an intense gaze dressed in an electricians’ union sweatshirt, then asked to speak.

“I would ask you as part of the sentencing to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon,” he said to the judge, gesturing toward Nassar, who has already been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison at an earlier hearing after pleading guilty to molesting young women under the guise of medical treatment.

Judge Janice Cunningham told him he knew she could not do that, and chastised him after he called Nassar a son of a bitch. He asked for one minute alone instead. The judge demurred as some in the courtroom laughed uncomfortably.

Margraves then bolted toward Nassar, seated in an orange jump suit behind a nearby table. His daughters’ hands flew to their mouths, and one of Nassar’s lawyers moved to shield his client.

Gasps, cries and shouts filled the courtroom as Margraves was wrestled to the ground, knocking things off a desk on the way down, and put in handcuffs while Nassar was taken out to safety.

“One minute!” he demanded repeatedly, his head pinned to the floor. As court officers pulled him from the room, he implored them, “What if this happened to you guys?” Some victims fled the room in tears.

Looking distressed, the lead prosecutor, Angela Povilaitis, turned to the victims and relatives in the courtroom and tried to restore calm, saying she did not want to see anyone else end up in handcuffs.

“I understand Mr. Margraves’ frustration but you cannot do this,” she said. “This is not helping your children.”

The hearing resumed after a short break, with the judge addressing what she called a “scary” scene.

“My heart started beating fast and my legs started shaking,” Cunningham said. “We cannot react by using physical violence,” she told the courtroom, noting she could not imagine Margraves’ pain as a father. Nassar was back in his seat, looking downcast.

The hearing then reverted to the ritual established at earlier sessions: woman after woman rising to confront Nassar with accounts of a revered doctor they trusted making them strip naked and penetrating them with ungloved hands, and affirmations that they are no longer victims but survivors.

Margraves was being held in a cell at the courthouse, according to a corrections officer, but it was not immediately clear whether he would face any charges.

People reacted on social media with empathy for Margraves, with some offering to help cover any legal costs he faces.

Views were more mixed at the courthouse.

“If he had gotten some licks in, I wouldn’t have cried over it,” Lavonda Simon, whose daughter was among Nassar’s victims, said. “I totally understand the feeling of wanting to hurt him. You bet.”

Mariah McClain, who testified about Nassar’s abuse of her after the break, said she had to leave when Margraves erupted.

“It was very upsetting,” she said. “It was just too much for me.”

Nassar, who is also serving a 60-year federal term for child pornography convictions, has sparked broader outrage after numerous victims accused USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, and Michigan State University, where Nassar worked, of failing to investigate complaints about him going back years.

U.S. Olympic officials have also been criticized by some of the sport’s biggest stars, including gold medalists Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney. Multiple investigations, including at least two by members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, are ongoing into how Nassar was able to abuse women for so long.

(Reporting by Steve Friess; Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Andrew Hay)

U.S. judge extends deadline for bank records of firm behind Trump dossier

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge has given an unnamed bank more time to respond to a congressional subpoena for financial records of the Washington research firm that hired a former British spy to compile a dossier on presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Trump and other Republicans have alleged that Russians paid Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, for research on their own dealings with Trump and his campaign. The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has sought Fusion’s bank records in an effort to pursue those allegations.

In a closed-door hearing with Senate Judiciary Committee investigators, Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson said there was no connection between the firm’s work on the dossier and its legal research on a lawsuit involving Russians who attended a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law and close aide, Jared Kusher, and former campaign chief Paul Manafort, sources familiar with the hearing said.

It has been widely reported that supporters of Republican Jeb Bush, a primary opponent of Trump, initially paid for the firm’s research, and the law firm Perkins Coie, which represented Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, confirmed on Tuesday that it hired Fusion GPS in April 2016.

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan had set a Thursday evening deadline for the unnamed bank to give the committee its last two years of records on Fusion GPS. But in an order posted on the court docket late on Thursday, she extended the deadline until Monday morning.

The decision indicates that lawyers for Fusion and the House committee are negotiating in an effort to settle their dispute out of court, sources familiar with the matter said.

Joshua Levy, a lawyer for Fusion, declined to comment, and the House of Representatives lawyer on the case did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by John Walcott and Tom Brown)

Federal judge strikes down two abortion restrictions in Alabama

By Chris Kenning

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Thursday struck down two abortion restrictions in Alabama that limited how close clinics can be to public schools and banned a procedure used to terminate pregnancies in the second trimester.

The decision is a blow to abortion opponents in Alabama, who have joined conservatives in other states in enacting new laws that critics said were chipping away at the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson in the Middle District of Alabama found the laws unconstitutional and permanently enjoined the state from enforcing the measures, which were signed into law in May 2016 by former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a Republican.

The same court last year temporarily blocked both measures in a preliminary injunction, which was under appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The school-proximity law banned clinics within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school and was the only law of its kind in the United States. Thompson said it would likely have forced the closing of clinics in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, where 72 percent of the state’s abortions are performed.

The “fetal-demise law,” which effectively banned the most common method of second-trimester abortion, known as dilation and evacuation, would have prohibited abortions after 15 weeks, Thompson wrote.

“Because these laws clearly impose an impermissible undue burden on a woman’s ability to choose an abortion, they cannot stand,” he wrote.

The ACLU of Alabama had challenged the laws on behalf of two women’s health clinics in a state where abortion providers have faced what Thompson’s ruling called a “climate of hostility.”

“Both would have had a devastating impact on the ability of women to access abortion in Alabama,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama.

Alabama’s Attorney General and Republican Governor Kay Ivey’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

U.S. state legislatures enacted 41 new abortion restrictions in the first half of 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank that supports abortion rights.

Those laws have led to a spate of legal challenges in Alabama and elsewhere. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of a Texas law that required clinics to meet hospital-like standards and for clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; editing by Patrick Enright and Grant McCool)