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State may agree to keep abortion ban on hold until 2020

By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama indicated in a court filing that it might agree to keep the state’s new abortion ban on hold until 2020 to let a legal challenge play out in court.

The law set to take effect in November would make performing an abortion a felony in most cases. Abortion providers have filed a lawsuit arguing the ban is unconstitutional.

Attorneys for the state and abortion providers this week submitted a joint status report to a judge indicating the two sides would agree to delay the law if it’s not possible to resolve the case before November. The court filing said they would agree to a temporary restraining order until May 24, 2020 — a year from when the lawsuit was filed — to allow time to resolve the lawsuit.

“Attorney General (Steve) Marshall agrees that, as suggested above, a temporary injunction would be appropriate to preserve the status quo,” the court filing stated.

The court filing also indicated the state wants to obtain information from the opposing side although it was not clear what information it is seeking.

Abortion rights groups say the ban is blatantly unconstitutional. Abortion providers also have asked for a preliminary injunction to keep the ban blocked until the case is decided.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson gave the state until Aug. 5 to respond to that request.

The Alabama law would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider. There would be few exceptions.

Abortion rights groups say it is clearly unconstitutional.

Emboldened by new conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court, Alabama is part of a wave of conservative states seeking to mount new legal challenges to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Some supporters have acknowledged the ban will almost certainly be struck down by lower courts because Roe is controlling precedent, but they hope to spark a court case that might prompt the justices to revisit abortion rights.

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