A U.S. District Court judge on Tuesday blocked Alabama’s controversial near-total abortion ban — which does not allow exceptions for victims of rape and incest and would make it a felony for doctors to perform the procedure unless a woman’s life was at risk — from going into effect.

Passage of the law in May was celebrated as a major victory for the antiabortion movement. The bill’s author, state Rep. Terri Collins, has said it was intended to serve as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that the Constitution protects a woman’s right nationwide to have an abortion. Collins earlier said she wanted the law to be strong enough to force federal court intervention — something she and others hope will lead to national restrictions on abortion.

“Today’s ruling is both expected and welcomed,” Collins said in an interview, explaining the decision “is merely the first of many steps on that legal journey. I remain confident that our mission will be successful and appreciate the support of millions of citizens who support our effort to preserve unborn life.”

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The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been active in lawsuits against the many states that have passed abortion restrictions in recent months, tweeted that the decision means “none of the state abortion bans passed earlier this year are in effect” and listed Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio and Utah as having similar laws that have also been blocked.

The Alabama bill was tumultuous from the start, with an argument breaking out during one of its introductions. The bill, which did pass 25-6, is even more restrictive than prior state-level abortion laws, and it includes a penalty of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions. Six of the Senate’s Democrats voted against the bill — one abstained — and they staged a filibuster late into the night in May after debating the bill for more than four hours. The divide included hundreds of protesters outside the Montgomery Capitol, including women who had given birth after rape and incest and supported the bill. Some abortion rights advocates dressed in “Handmaid’s Tale” red robes, with one captured in a viral photograph giving the middle finger to the building as senators debated inside.

Both sides reacted with similar passion on Tuesday to U.S. District Court in Middle Alabama Judge Myron H. Thompson’s decision to issue an injunction against the law going into effect.

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Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, which has more than 1,200 chapters on college and high school campuses, accused “the abortion industry” of “using the judges in their pocket to usurp the will of the voters.” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement that she signed it into law “as a testament to Alabamians’ long-standing belief that every human life is sacred” and said she is trusting the attorney general to do “everything he can to challenge today’s ruling and obtain a just result."

Amanda Reyes, executive director at Yellowhammer Fund, a grass-roots organization that helps low-income women pay for abortions, said that while she is relieved to learn that abortion will remain legal in Alabama, “this changes nothing when it comes to the crisis marginalized communities have faced and will continue to face when it comes to accessing a termination.”

“Conservative lawmakers hope that the American public will forget about our state and those who remain unable to easily, quickly and affordably access safe abortion care even with the total abortion ban being put on hold,” Reyes said. We will “not allow their needs to go unmet or their struggles to be forgotten.”

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