Judge Blocks Alabama Abortion Law, Laying a Path to Supreme Court
Alabama Republicans are hoping to take a new Alabama abortion law all the way to the Supreme Court in hopes of overruling Roe v. Wade.
Two and a half weeks prior to a new Alabama abortion law banning abortion at any stage was set to take effect on November 15, a federal judge issued an injunction on Tuesday declaring the bill “unconstitutional” and preventing its enforcement. The injunction, though, does not come as a surprise to either side as the bill was designed to be appealed up to the Supreme Court where it could provide a constitutional challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Alabama Abortion Law Bans Abortion at Any Stage
Alabama’s new abortion law controversially bans abortion at any stage of the pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest. It would allow abortion in cases where the fetus has a “lethal anomaly” or the pregnancy posed “a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”
The bill also criminalizes performing an abortion and makes anyone performing one guilty of a Class A felony, punishable by 10 to 99 years. Women who received an abortion would not be held criminally or civilly liable.
Supreme Court Challenge
As Leighanna Shirey previously wrote for Citizen Truth the bill clearly conflicts with Roe v. Wade, but according to the bill’s sponsor that is the point. Republican Terri Collins, the bill’s sponsor, was not concerned that the bill would conflict with previous Supreme Court Decisions, saying that the “whole point is to get the courts to relook at this issue.”
“It simply criminalizes abortion,” said Collins. “Hopefully, it takes it all the way to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
“I think people are seeing a possibility that the Supreme Court might have a more conservative-leaning balance,” Collins stated.
With newly appointed conservative Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, pro-abortion activists fear that Roe v. Wade could be severely undermined or overturned altogether.
On Tuesday, in U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson’s 17-page injunction order, Thompson wrote that Alabama itself conceded the Alabama abortion law is unconstitutional.
“The court is persuaded that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in showing that the Act violates an individual’s constitutional right to obtain a pre-viability abortion, and thus that it violates her constitutional rights. And the defendant agrees,” wrote Thompson.
Abortion History in the US
In the landmark 1973 abortion case, Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court affirmed 7-2 that a woman has a constitutional right to have an abortion. Twenty years later in the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court upheld a women’s constitutional right to an abortion but replaced Roe v. Wade’s trimester framework with a new “fetal viability” standard.
Alabama Republicans who passed the new Alabama abortion law in May of 2019 in party-line votes in both chambers of Alabama’s congress have openly acknowledged the law is unconstitutional since its inception. Hence, Tuesday’s ruling was neither a surprise nor a disappointment.
“We intend to submit evidence that supports our argument that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided and that the Constitution does not prohibit states from protecting unborn children from abortion,” said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, a Republican, in a statement.
The ACLU and Planned Parenthood have both vowed to fight Alabama’s abortion law.
“The state’s repeated attempts to push abortion out of reach by enacting unconstitutional laws restricting abortions has already cost taxpayers nearly $2.5 million. This ill-advised law will cost taxpayers more money,” Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said in a statement given to Courthouse News.