OP-ED: Alabama Abortion Clinics Look for Political Gains While Everyone Else Looks for Ways to Stop Covid

It looks like an evidentiary hearing has been set for next Monday regarding the temporary restraining order (i.e. FREE PASS) issued by Judge Myron Thompson earlier this week.  The order ensures Alabama abortion clinics can continue ignoring the March 27 Health Order, pretend social distancing does not apply to their lobbies, and keep all of their personal protective equipment for themselves. Meanwhile nurses and doctors at hospitals treating COVID-19 continue to sacrifice their own safety and go without.  

No one in Alabama should be surprised that these abortion clinics seem to believe the law does not apply to them — even in a pandemic.  It is well known that any time Alabama passes a pro-life regulation, abortion hero Judge Myron Thompson issues a temporary restraining order, a permanent injunction, or some other legal relief to make certain abortion clinics can continue killing children in the womb without interruption.

That is why no one was surprised that once the ACLU filed for an emergency TRO on Monday, Judge Thompson came to the rescue just hours later.  Since then, several filings have been made by the ACLU on behalf of the clinics and by Alabama Attorney General Steven Marshall on behalf of the state. Sixteen states also filed an amicus brief in support of the AG.

Yesterday, AG Marshall filed his expected motion to dissolve the TRO, along with a brief in support of the motion.  (You can read the brief by clicking here.) All normal legal procedures.

However, among the filings from the ACLU, a very revealing document was filed on March 30th.  It is an “Amended Complaint.” More specifically, the “complaint” is the same May 2019 lawsuit filed by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood Southeast (PPSE), and every other abortion clinic in Alabama. The 2019 filing was a challenge to the constitutionality of HB 314, one of the strongest abortion bans passed in the United States.  This week, that original lawsuit was amended to include the abortion ban and the March 27 Health Order. 

Now, please know that we are not lawyers here at CEC For Life.  We do not pretend to fully understand the legal ins and outs of any lawsuit, including this one.  But we think it’s important to ask questions when we see the ACLU lumping things together in court.  In fact, once we looked a bit more at the overall picture of this week’s emergency petition to Judge Thompson, we realized it was submitted under the same case number as the earlier 2019 lawsuit. Though the March 27 Health Order has nothing to do with HB 314, it was not filed separately.

Is it possible that the ACLU filed this new petition under the older lawsuit to ensure Judge Thompson would receive the request for a TRO?  The cases assigned to Judge Thompson are supposed to be random, yet somehow he ends up with every abortion case in the state.

Is it possible that they have combined their challenge to HB 314 and the March 27 Health Order to ensure that if one gets shot down, so does the other?  

Most of all, if the challenge to the March 27 order is about “essential” services for women in a time of crisis, if it’s about serving women right now, today — as the clinics and their lawyers continue to loudly claim — then why are we suddenly talking about the constitutionality of a statewide ban we passed last year? A ban that already has an injunction from Thompson, and is waiting to hopefully be reviewed by the Supreme Court.  In other words, a law that has nothing to do with the current COVID-19 Crisis.

We don’t have the answer to those questions.  (Maybe some of our lawyer friends who read this op-ed do, and we welcome your insights.) All we know is that this week’s challenge to a common sense health order has been done in a way that directly connects it with the 2019 lawsuit, which certainly keeps it in Judge Thompson’s court, and also loops in Planned Parenthood Southeast, who was not included in this week’s petition for the TRO. There are two Planned Parenthood locations in the state, but neither have been able to offer abortions for over two years. They are certainly unaffected by the recent Health Order, and yet here they are in the middle of this challenge.

We already know that abortion clinics are putting their bottom line first in this pandemic.  In fact, the first complaint they made in the petition for the TRO was about being forced to cancel appointments and sustaining “irreparable harm” because of it. Alabama abortion clinics won’t comply to any health order order because it will reduce their profits — plain and simple.  But it looks like they have also decided to pile on some political gains while they’re at it.  

One thing is certain, abortion clinics in Alabama are definitely not putting people first — not their patients, not their employees, not their surrounding communities, not the exhausted nurses and doctors treating COVID-19 cases, and definitely not the government officials trying to curb the spread of this virus.  The only things these clinics are ever willing to protect are their own self-interests. The rest of the world can take a hike. Or get COVID-19. They don’t really care either way.