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Alabama's Near-Total Abortion Ban Blocked

A US federal judge has blocked Alabama from implementing a near-total ban on abortion, ruling it would cause " irreparable harm".

The ban, dubbed the "Human Life Protection Act", was set to take effect on November 15.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the ban on Tuesday morning, effectively halting the law from taking effect while the lawsuit challenging the ban continues.

Steve Marshall, Alabama's attorney general, said the decision "was not unexpected", noting that the point of the law was to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion nationwide.

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"As we have stated before, the State's objective is to advance our case to the US Supreme Court where we intend to submit evidence that supports our argument that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided and that the Constitution does not prohibit states from protecting unborn children from abortion," Marshall told CBS News.

Planned Parenthood praised the judge's ruling.

"This is not only a victory for the people of Alabama — it's a victory for the entire nation," Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast told CBS News.

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"We said it from the start: this ban is blatantly unconstitutional and we will fight it every step of the way."

In the 17-page opinion, Myron H. Thompson, a federal judge for the Middle District of Alabama, North Division, wrote that enforcing the ban would cause "serious and irreparable harm."

"A near-total ban imposes substantial costs on women, including those who are unable to obtain an abortion and those who 'desperately seek to exercise their ability to decide whether to have a child' and thus 'would take unsafe measures to end their pregnancies,'" Thompson wrote, quoting from another Alabama-based abortion lawsuit from 2014, Planned Parenthood Southeast v. Strange.

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The law, passed in May, would ban all abortions in the state except when "abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk" to the woman, according to the bill's text.

There is no exception for cases of rape or incest. It criminalises the procedure, reclassifying abortion as a Class A felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors.

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