An Alabama bill introduced Tuesday seeks to ban all abortions in the state by making the killing of an unborn baby a felony.
State Rep. Terri Collins, the sponsor of the bill, said she believes now is the “right time” to introduce an abortion ban in Alabama, according to the Alabama Political Reporter.
State House Bill 314 would make an abortion and attempted abortion a felony. Exceptions would be allowed if the mother’s life is at risk. Mothers would not be punished for having an abortion under the legislation.
Collins said she expects the bill will face a legal challenge, and the American Civil Liberties Union confirmed that it would sue if the measure becomes law, WAFF News 48 reports. However, the pro-life lawmaker said the fight would be worth it to save children’s lives.
“I am a believer that our Declaration of Independence says that we have a right to life,” Collins said. “Hopefully, [my bill] takes it all the way to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe versus Wade.”
Eric Johnston, president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, told WAAY 31 News that he also believes now is the time to challenge Roe v. Wade with legislation that protects unborn babies’ right to life.
He pointed to the November election when Alabama voters approved a state constitutional amendment that affirms the rights of unborn children. It states that Alabama public policy will “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life in all manners and measures appropriate and lawful.”
Soon after Collins introduced the bill Tuesday, the abortion chain Planned Parenthood blasted it as a “death sentence for women.”
“HB 314 and SB 211 would be a death sentence for women across this state,” said Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, in a statement. “They would also criminalize our doctors, forcing them to make an impossible choice: treat their pregnant patients or protect themselves instead.”
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Whether the bill would withstand a legal challenge remains uncertain. Even some pro-life advocates express concerns about the strategy of such legislation, because when states lose these battles, taxpayers often are forced to pay pro-abortion groups’ legal fees.
Abortion groups have succeeded in overturning similar laws in court. In 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a personhood bill as unconstitutional because it recognized unborn babies as human beings who deserve the right to life.
When considering a similar Missouri statute in 1989, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist ruled that the statute was nothing more than a statement of position that had no bearing on banning abortions or even limiting them in any way.
Missouri had approved a statute saying, “the life of each human being begins at conception” and “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.” The statute required that all Missouri state laws be interpreted to provide unborn children with rights equal to those enjoyed by other persons.
There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider an abortion ban, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain – especially after Chief Justice John Roberts recently sided with the liberal justices on an abortion case.