Alabama abortion clinic suit: Parties agree to extend restraining order into March

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A capitol police officer asks anti-abortion protesters to no interfere with a Planned Parenthood rally against abortion related bills on the steps of the Alabama State House in Montgomery on Tuesday, April 2, 2013.(Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser)

A capitol police officer asks anti-abortion protesters to no interfere with a Planned Parenthood rally against abortion related bills on the steps of the Alabama State House in Montgomery on Tuesday, April 2, 2013.(Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser)

In a filing in U.S. Middle District court Thursday, plaintiffs and defendants in a lawsuit challenging a key portion of a new abortion clinic law said they have agreed to extend a temporary restraining order on an admitting privileges requirement to March 24 of next year.

The filing also sets a schedule that would likely mean a trial over the provision early in 2014.

The new law, known as HB 57, imposes new regulations on the state’s five abortion clinics, including a regulation that requires every physician at an abortion clinic to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The state has argued the measure is designed to protect the health of a patient. The plaintiffs call it medically unnecessary due to the safety of abortion procedures, and said enforcement of the section will force them to shut down.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson put the temporary restraining order in place last month, and extended it earlier this month. Attorneys representing plaintiffs and defendants are scheduled to hold a conference Friday morning to further discuss scheduling in the case.

The filing says they see no prospects for a settlement. “The parties know of no alternative dispute resolution procedure that may enhance settlement prospects,” the document says.

The document says the extended order was a result of an agreement to consolidate the plaintiffs’motions for a preliminary and permanent injunction on the provision.

– posted by Brian Lyman

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