Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed their expected lawsuit Friday to overturn a new Alabama law that bans abortions.
The law, signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last week, protects unborn babies from abortions in almost all circumstances. State House Bill 314, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, makes abortions a felony. Exceptions are allowed if the mother’s life is at risk. Mothers would not be punished for having an abortion under the legislation, but abortionists could face prison time for violations.
“Make no mistake: Abortion remains, and will remain, safe and legal in Alabama. With this lawsuit, we are seeking a court order to make sure this law never takes effect,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, when he announced the lawsuit, the AP reports.
The law is slated to go into effect Nov. 15, but both pro-life and abortion activists expect a judge will block it before then. Pro-life leaders hope that the U.S. Supreme Court eventually will uphold the law and allow states to protect unborn babies once again.
“My goal with this bill, and I think all of our goals, is to have Roe v. Wade turned over and that decision ability sent back to the states,” Collins said earlier this month when her bill passed.
Abortion activists hope for a victory in court, though.
“This law is blatantly unconstitutional, and the ACLU will not stand by while politicians emboldened by President (Donald) Trump’s anti-abortion agenda exploit our health and our lives for political gain,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an attorney for the national ACLU.
The legal group argued that the law is unconstitutional because it restricts a woman’s “right” to an abortion. According to the ACLU, the law will “inflict immediate and irreparable harm” on patients by “forcing them to continue their pregnancies to term against their will,” AFP reports.
The groups involved in the lawsuit include the three abortion clinics in Alabama, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and Yashica Robinson, an abortionist and OB-GYN, according to the report.
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Abortion advocacy groups are involved in dozens of lawsuits across the country that challenge everything from requirements that doctors perform abortions to late-term abortion bans to restrictions on taxpayer funding for abortions.
Ivey defended signing the pro-life law late last week, saying it is time for the nation to reconsider Roe v. Wade.
“Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur,” Ivey said in her statement.
She noted that the legislation passed by an overwhelming majority in both state houses.
“The Legislature has spoken,” she said. “It underscores the sanctity of life the people of Alabama value so highly.”
The bill represents the views of Alabama voters. Last year, Alabamans approved a state constitutional amendment that says unborn babies have a right to life. According to figures from the Alabama Secretary of State, 55 percent of the voters were women.
However, the ACLU said the legal challenge could cost state taxpayers millions of dollars. The legal group 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.
The abortion industry has 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, former 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.