Alabama lawmakers are considering a bill this week that would ban all abortions in the state by making the killing of an unborn baby a felony.
Hearings on the legislation are slated in the state House and Senate this week, as lawmakers weigh the merits of the pro-life bill against a potentially expensive legal challenge that could put more money in the pockets of the abortion industry.
State House Bill 314, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, 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 told the Times Daily that she expects a legal challenge, and hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold protections for the unborn.
“It was about creating something that was meant to go all the way to the Supreme Court, and it also needed to have the most value when talking about a pro-life bill if you are going to try and pass it,” Collins said.
“I believe the Roe v. Wade decision was based on a lack of information that the baby in a womb is a person,” she added.
A state House committee has a hearing on the bill scheduled for Wednesday, the AP reports. The state Senate Judiciary Committee also is expected to consider the companion bill (Senate Bill 211) sometime this week.
If approved and enforced, the legislation could save thousands of unborn babies’ lives every year. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 6,768 abortions in 2017.
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However, the abortion industry is expected to sue to block the law in court.
“They are trying to tee this up as an opportunity for the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade and its progeny. There are already cases in the pipeline that will get to the Supreme Court long before this does,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.
He told the AP that the law would be struck down in court quickly if it passes. Marshall said it also could cost state taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and cited another case where Alabama taxpayers were forced to pay Planned Parenthood and the ACLU $1.7 million after a court struck down another pro-life state law.
That is a concern for a number of pro-life leaders. 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.