Alabama Judge Upholds Right to Know Law

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 29, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Alabama Judge Upholds Right to Know Law

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 29, 2003

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge on Monday ruled that Alabama’s Right to Know law is constitutional. However, he also said the state, rather than abortion facilities, must pay for the materials that are distributed to women considering abortions.

The law requires abortion facilities to make information about fetal development and abortion risks and dangers available to women 24 hours before an abortion can be performed.

U.S. District Judge Harold Albritton’s decision came in response to a lawsuit by a group of abortion facilities challenging the pro-life law.

Albritton also ruled that abortion facilities can be required to give women the information and allow them to view a video on fetal development, but women considering abortion are not required to read or view the materials.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion law firm based on New York, said the decision would abortion facilities more than $50,000 annually. The state said it would charge the abortion businesses $4 for the booklet of information and $50 for the video.

Gail McInnish of Alabama Citizens for Life is surprised to hear of the cost of the materials.

"When Alabama’s informed consent law was passed in 2001, the information booklet was supposed to be about 6 to 8 pages long and cost the state less than a dollar," McInnish told LifeNews.com. She said her organization would look into the discrepency.

Linda Rosenthal, a staff attorney, claimed the requirement to pay for and distribute the information violated the abortion facilities’ first amendment rights.

The state Attorney General has not decided whether to appeal.

Pro-life advocates say the decision could have been worse. The abortion businesses dropped some of their concerns about the constitutionality of the law and the law still stands.

"The Alabama Health Department will still have to distribute the ‘Did You Know’ booklets to the clinics for the women considering abortions," John Giles, President of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, told LifeNews.com.