Alabama’s governor has signed the most stringent abortion ban in the nation.
Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed the measure on Wednesday. The law will make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison.
The law contains an exception for when the pregnancy creates a serious health risk for the woman, but not an exception for rape or incest.
There would be no punishment for the woman receiving the abortion, only for the abortion provider.
‘Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act,’ Ivey said in a statement.
‘To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,’ she continued.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is seen signing the bill into law on Wednesday. She called the new law ‘a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious’
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey discusses the bill while visiting a car factory at Montgomery, Alabama on Wednesday shortly before signing it into law
Gov. Ivey’s full statement on HB314
‘Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.
‘To all Alabamians, I assure you that we will continue to follow the rule of law.
‘In all meaningful respects, this bill closely resembles an abortion ban that has been a part of Alabama law for well over 100 years. As today’s bill itself recognizes, that longstanding abortion law has been rendered ‘unenforceable as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.’
‘No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. 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.
‘I want to commend the bill sponsors, Rep. Terri Collins and Sen. Clyde Chambliss, for their strong leadership on this important issue.
‘For the remainder of this session, I now urge all members of the Alabama Legislature to continue seeking the best ways possible to foster a better Alabama in all regards, from education to public safety. We must give every person the best chance for a quality life and a promising future.’
The bill passed the state senate 25-6, after being approved by the state’s lower house 75-3.
The new law will not go into effect for six months, and in the interim abortions will remain legal in Alabama, which has three abortion clinics.
The law will likely to be challenged immediately in court, potentially setting up a case which could allow anti-abortion groups to force a Supreme Court hearing in which they would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Democrats accused Alabama Republicans of leading a charge to overturn Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.
A series of the 2020 presidential candidates warned that Republican-controlled legislatures around the country may follow suit, emboldened by President Donald Trump’s two conservative justices and a warning from one of the liberal justices that abortion rights were now in play.
Democrats say that abortion opponents are hoping that the 5-4 conservative majority on the court – put in place by Trump installing Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – will rule in their favor, and tear up the 1973 ruling which makes abortion a federal right.
An anti-abortion bill that pass both houses of Alabama’s legislature has Democratic presidential candidates up in arms
Conservative court: Chief Justice John Robert now presides over a court with five justices – himself included – seen as anti-abortion, two of them Trump’s picks: Brett Kavanaugh (top right), and Neil Gorsuch (top left)
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is warning what the bill’s authors have readily admitted, that the legislation is meant to be a mechanism to get abortion before the Supreme Court again
Under the Alabama law, the only legal abortions would be those performed to protect a woman’s life.
Doctors could face 10 years in prison for attempting an abortion in any other circumstance, and 99 years for actually carrying out the procedure.
Other Republican-controlled states, including Ohio, have passed less restrictive ‘heartbeat bills’ which effectively ban abortion after six weeks. Roe v. Wade established it was legal in the first and second trimesters.
THE ‘HEARTBEAT BILL’ MOVEMENT: WHICH STATES ARE BRINGING THE MEASURES
STATES THAT NOW HAVE ‘FETAL HEARTBEAT’ LAWS
- Georgia (signed into law May 7, 2019)
- Ohio (signed into law April 11, 2019)
- Mississippi (signed into law March 21, 2019) – though it is being challenged
- Alabama (on May 14, passed ban with no exceptions for rape or incest 25-6)
STATES WHOSE BILLS HAVE BEEN BLOCKED BY COURTS
- Arkansas (passed March 2014, blocked March 2015)
- North Dakota (passed July 2015, blocked January 2016)
- Iowa (passed May 2018, blocked January 2019)
- Kentucky (passed March 2019, blocked April 2019)
STATES THAT ARE CONSIDERING IT
- Louisiana has a bill in the senate with strong bipartisan support
- Tennessee has a bill but the Republican AG warned it will be hard to pass, driving many to vote against
- South Carolina gave near-final approval to the bill last month
- Missouri‘s bill also advanced last month
- Texas wanted to bring the death penalty for women who undergo abortions
- West Virginia introduced a bill in February 2019
- Florida‘s bill failed yesterday, but anti-abortion lawmakers are expected to try again
- Minnesota proposed the bill in January 2019
- Maryland‘s failed to pass in April
- Kansas Republican lawmakers are trying and failing to override a veto that blocks a fetal heartbeat bill
- Illinois‘s bill was proposed in February
- New York‘s bill was proposed in February
Many pro-life groups have acknowledged they are looking for a case which would allow them to directly challenge Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.
Anti-abortion activists hope the high court will be willing to reconsider Roe.
‘It is clearer than ever that Roe is far from being settled law in the eyes and hearts of the American people, and this is increasingly reflected in state legislatures,’ said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. ‘The American people want a fresh debate and a new direction.’
The Supreme Court affirmed women’s constitutional right to abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. President Donald Trump has added two conservative members to the court, changing its dynamic in a way that could end the case’s authority.
Legal fights are likely ahead over the Alabama measure if Ivey signs it into law.
Similar abortion restrictions are under consideration or already enacted in other conservative-leaning states.
Republican state Senator Clyde Chambliss, arguing in favor of the Alabama bill, said the point was ‘so that we can go directly to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade.’
Republican lawmaker Terri Collins, who sponsored the legislation, said: ‘Our bill says that baby in the womb is a person.’
Courts this year have blocked restrictive abortion laws in Kentucky and Iowa. But supporters of the Alabama ban said the right to life for the unborn child transcends other rights, an idea they would like tested.
In the case of Alabama, if passed, the law is certain to be challenged in federal court in the state and almost surely will be blocked because it plainly conflicts with Supreme Court precedent.
Review by the federal appeals court in Atlanta would come next, and only then would the Supreme Court be asked to weigh in. Emergency appeals by either side could put the issue before the justices sooner, but that would not be a full-blown review of the law.
Abortion-rights activists say they have no alternative but to file lawsuits challenging every tough abortion ban passed.
‘Were we not to challenge them, they would go into effect,’ said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. ‘There’s no strategy of ‘Maybe we leave this one and challenge that one.”
The ACLU and its allies expect lower-level federal courts to honor Roe by blocking the abortion bans. The ultimate question, Dalven said, is whether the Supreme Court will decide to revisit Roe by agreeing to hear an appeal from one or more of the states whose ban was blocked.
‘It would be an extraordinary thing for the Supreme Court to take away an individual constitutional right,’ she said.
WHERE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES STAND ON ABORTION
Chief Justice John Roberts
George W. Bush appointee. Voted in favor of abortion restrictions until Justice Anthony Kennedy left the bench. In only abortion case since then, voted to provisionally block new restrictions in Louisiana. As swing justice, seen as wanting to avoid the Supreme Court being associated with entrenched political positions. Could do his best to avoid a Roe v. Wade challenge coming to the court. Position if one did is now unclear
Clinton appointee. Warned in May that that the conservative majority could overturn a 1992 decision upholding Roe v. Wade. Has consistently voted pro-choice
Obama appointee. Has consistently voted pro-choice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Clinton appointee. Has consistently voted pro-choice
Obama appointee. Has consistently voted pro-choice
George H.W. Bush appointee. Said this year that Roe v. Wade was ‘notoriously incorrect’ and compared it to Dred Scott, the case which upheld slavery before the Civil War. Has consistently voted for anti-abortion positions
George W. Bush appointee. As a federal appeal judge, he voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law which required women to tell their husbands they planned to have an abortion. As Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, his ruling was overturned in the Supreme Court the next year, in a ruling Stephen Breyer says could be overturned itself. Has consistently voted for anti-abortion positions
Trump appointee. Only vote on abortion-related case was in February, on whether to block restrictions on clinics in Louisiana pending a full appeal. Gorsuch voted for them to go into place but the block was kept in place by Roberts voting with the liberal wing. Federal court career has no abortion votes. Seen as likely to vote for anti-abortion positions
Trump appointee. Like Gorsuch, only vote on abortion-related case was in February, on whether to block restrictions on clinics in Louisiana pending a full appeal, when he joined Gorsuch in losing minority. As federal appeal court judge had one significant abortion vote, against allowing a 17-year-old illegal immigrant in detention to seek a termination without delay. Seen as likely to vote for anti-abortion positions
Justice Stephen Breyer offered the latest recognition of the difficulty his liberal side of the court faces in a dissent in a case unrelated to abortion that the court decided Monday, one in which the five conservatives voted to overturn a 1979 decision.
Breyer, joined by liberal colleagues Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, cited the 1992 abortion decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey in a dissent that concluded: ‘Today’s decision can only cause one to wonder which cases the court will overrule next.’
Justice Clarence Thomas is the only member on record as supporting overruling the court’s abortion precedents. In his most recent comments on the topic in February, also in a case unrelated to abortion, Thomas likened Roe to the court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, which said African Americans weren’t citizens. Both, he wrote, were ‘notoriously incorrect.’
But Chief Justice John Roberts also has a track record of preferring smaller bites before making significant changes in constitutional law.
‘You do see consistently in the chief justice’s career a willingness to go incrementally and only decide what the court needs to resolve in the case before it,’ said Michael Moreland, a Villanova University law professor.
Roberts also is aware of the questions the court would face if a conservative majority of justices, all appointed by Republican presidents, were to reverse the abortion decisions, Moreland said.
Still, Roberts has, with one exception, favored abortion restrictions. His provisional vote to block the Louisiana clinic law was the only time he voted in support of abortions rights in more than 13 years on the court.
The Alabama vote set off outrage among Democrats.
‘This is wrong. This is unconstitutional,’ Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar tweeted.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke wrote on Twitter: ‘We will fight these dangerous efforts with everything we’ve got in legislatures across the country.’
Former vice president Joe Biden, the early Democratic front-runner, touted his anti-abortion credentials, tweeting on Wednesday: ‘Republicans in AL, FL, GA, and OH are ushering in laws that clearly violate Roe v Wade and they should be declared unconstitutional. Roe v Wade is settled law and should not be overturned. This choice should remain between a woman and her doctor.’
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg criticized Alabama lawmakers for ‘ignoring science, criminalizing abortion, and punishing women.’
‘Instead, the government’s role should be to make sure all women have access to comprehensive affordable care, and that includes safe and legal abortion,’ he wrote.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told CNN on Tuesday: ‘It’s certainly the intention of President Trump and the Republican Party to overturn Roe v. Wade.’
Gillibrand observed on Twitter that that Alabama bill includes ‘[n]o exceptions for rape or incest. Doctors could face 99 years in prison for providing abortions.’
‘This is a war on women, and it is time to fight like hell,’ she added.
Alabama Democratic state Sen. Roger Smitherman is pictured speaking in opposition to HB314, which now sits on Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk awaiting her signature
Gillibrand also claimed in an MSNBC interview on Wednesday that the public won’t stand for any interference with legal abortion rights.
‘This is not something the American people support. Seventy percent of Americans want safe, legal abortion to be available to women when they need it,’ she claimed.
‘This ban is dangerous and exceptionally cruel – and the bill’s authors want to use it to overturn Roe v. Wade,’ Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote Tuesday night.
‘I’ve lived in that America and let me tell you: We are not going back – not now, not ever. We will fight this. And we will win.’
‘I say to Gov. Ivey: Veto this cruel bill,’ tweeted Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. ‘Stop the attack on women’s rights.’
Alabama Democratic state Senator Linda Coleman-Madison called the Republicans hypocritical for advocating small government that ought to stay out of private matters but ‘now you want in my womb; I want you out.’
Anti-abortion protesters are hopefully awaiting a day when Roe v. Wade can be reopened in light of 46 years of shifting public sentiments on abortion rights
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke wrote on Twitter: ‘We will fight these dangerous efforts with everything we’ve got in legislatures across the country’
Anti-abortion protesters demonstrated this week in front of the Alabama State House in Montgomery
Pregnant 11-year-old rape victim in Ohio would have no right to an abortion under new state law
An 11-year-old in Ohio who allegedly became pregnant after being raped by a 26-year-old would have no right to an abortion under new state legislation signed into law last month.
Ohio passed a bill banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected in the fetus, at around five or six weeks into a pregnancy, in April.
As the bill will not come into effect until July, the victim, who cannot be named, will be allowed to have abortion if she chooses, but thousands of other victims will soon be denied the same right.
A pregnant 11-year-old rape victim in Ohio would have no right to an abortion under new laws in her state had she been assaulted just two months later. Pictured: protesters fighting against an abortion ban dress up as handmaids outside Alabama State House in Montgomery
The legislature also means many women will only discover they are pregnant after the time period for a legal abortion has passed.
The case has raised serious questions about the so-called ‘heartbeat bill’, which four other states have passed so far.
Attorney General Dave Yost defended the law after being quizzed about this specific case by CBS News.
He told the broadcaster: ‘Sometimes, the evolution of the law requires bold steps.
‘In the last 46 years, the practice of medicine has changed. Science has changed. Even the point of viability has changed. Only the law has lagged behind.’
Ohio already bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and the girl will need to gain parental consent or her case to a judge for permission.
Although the bill passed the House of Representatives 74-3, some GOP state senators have expressed discomfort that the bill doesn’t include an exception for rape.
‘Overwhelmingly, the people out on the street I’m talking to, they are hesitant to put into law no exceptions,’ Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said.