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11th Circuit vacates previous ruling on Alabama’s abortion consent bypass law

The 11th Circuit vacated its previous ruling that found parts of Alabama’s abortion consent bypass law unconstitutional. In a two-page notice released Thursday, the court granted a petition for rehearing the case en banc.

(CN) — The 11th Circuit vacated its previous ruling that found parts of Alabama’s abortion consent bypass law unconstitutional. In a two-page notice released Thursday, the court granted a petition for rehearing the case en banc.

“A majority of the judges in active service on this Court having voted in favor of granting rehearing en banc, it is ordered that this appeal will be reheard en banc… the panel’s opinion is vacated,” the 10-judge panel wrote. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed the petition for rehearing with the 11th Circuit. Marshall’s office has yet to respond to a request for comment on the court’s decision to grant a rehearing and vacate its previous opinion. 

Ten of the 11 active judges for the 11th Circuit participated in the poll to rehear the case. Circuit Judge Andrew Brasher, a Donald Trump appointee, recused himself from the poll and did not participate in Thursday's decision. Brasher served as Alabama’s Solicitor General from 2014 to 2019. 

Alabama’s Parental Consent act required a minor to receive written permission from one of her parents to receive an abortion. If consent is not given by the parents, they may alternatively receive a judicial order allowing the procedure, so long as she is “mature and well-informed enough to make the abortion decision on her own.”

In 2014, the law was amended, changing the process by which a minor can attain a judicial order. Instead of the process being a relatively private affair, the changes required minors to request a judge's permission before an open court. 

Reproductive Health Services, an abortion clinic located in Montgomery, filed the initial challenge in court against the amendments to the Parental Consent Act. They claimed that the changes turned the process into a de facto trial.  

In June of 2021, U.S. Circuit Judges Charles Wilson, a Bill Clinton appointee, Adalberto Jordan, a Barack Obama appointee, and Patrick Higginbotham, a Ronald Reagan appointee who usually presides at the Fifth Circuit, ruled the amendments to be unconstitutional because it created obstacles for a minor to get the procedure. 

The three-judge panel wrote in a 60-page opinion that the amendments to “the Act [created] an undue burden under Whole Woman’s Health and Casey.” Under the precedent set by Casey, states cannot place restrictions on abortion providers that burden the women seeking to end a pregnancy. 

The notice did not indicate when oral arguments will be held in the rehearing of the case.

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Categories / Appeals, Civil Rights, Government

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