A federal judge argued that a woman's right to have an abortion deserves the same protection as her right to bear arms in a ruling Monday that a 2013 Alabama law requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson concluded, in his 172-page decision handed down Monday, that the requirement that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at hospitals in the same metropolitan area that they conduct abortions places an undue burden on women's right to abortion. To prove his point however he paralleled abortion rights with gun ownership rights.
"The constitutional rights recognized by the Supreme Court are often viewed as more, or less, important in our minds based on our subjective beliefs, which may be the result of religion, personal philosophy, traditions, or experiences. This is simply an aspect of human nature, but it is an aspect this court must resist," Thompson began in the conclusion portion of the decision.
"In deciding this case, the court was struck by a parallel in some respects between the right of women to decide to terminate a pregnancy and the right of the individual to keep and bear firearms, including handguns, in her home for the purposes of self-defense," he said.
"At its core, each protected right is held by the individual: the right to decide to have an abortion and the right to have and use firearms for self-defense. However, neither right can be fully exercised without the assistance of someone else," he noted.
"The right to abortion cannot be exercised without a medical professional, and the right to keep and bear arms means little if there is no one from whom to acquire the handgun or ammunition. In the context of both rights, the Supreme Court recognizes that some regulation of the protected activity is appropriate, but that other regulation may tread too heavily on the right," he continued.
"… There are many who believe, as a matter of law that the Supreme Court's reasoning in articulating the right was incorrect and who also believe, as a matter of strong moral or ethical convictions, that the activity deserves no constitutional protection.
"With this parallelism in mind, the court poses the hypothetical that suppose, for the public weal, the federal or state government were to implement a new restriction on who may sell firearms and ammunition and on the procedure they must employ in selling such goods and that, further, only two vendors in the State of Alabama were capable of complying with the restriction: one in Huntsville and one in Tuscaloosa," he asked before responding to his own question.
By the same reasoning, he declared, laws aimed at ensuring safety at gun stores would be unconstitutional if it caused a large number of gun stores to close.
"The defenders of this law would be called upon to do a heck of a lot of explaining--and rightly so in the face of an effect so severe. Similarly, in this case, so long as the Supreme Court continues to recognize a constitutional right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, any regulation that would, in effect, restrict the exercise of that right to only Huntsville and Tuscaloosa should be subject to the same skepticism," said Thompson.
Thompson's decision Monday effectively prevents the 2013 law from being enforced pending the outcome of litigation.