- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A federal judge is delaying enforcement of an Alabama law regulating abortion clinics for one more week while he tries to rule on a lawsuit challenging the law.

At issue is a law passed by the Legislature in 2013 that requires doctors at abortion clinics to have approval to admit patients to local hospitals.

Abortion clinics and the Alabama Civil Liberties Union challenged the law in court, and U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued a temporary restraining order against its enforcement that ran through Monday. The judge told attorneys last month that he anticipated ruling by then, but he has issued a new order extending the prohibition against enforcement through April 2 to give him more time to rule.

The plaintiffs say three of Alabama’s five licensed abortion clinics will have to close because they use traveling doctors, and the doctors don’t have enough patients to get admitting privileges at local hospitals. Those clinics are in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham. The other clinics are in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.

The state attorney general’s office is defending the law and says it protects women’s health.

Another part of the 2013 law setting stricter building requirements for abortion clinics was not challenged.

The judge’s ruling will coincide with the Alabama Legislature considering additional restrictions on abortions. A bill passed by the House and awaiting a vote in the Senate would extend the wait for abortions from 24 hours to 48 hours after a woman receives information from the clinic about the risks of abortion and adoption options. The Senate’s vote on the bill could come as early as April 1.

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