Abortion advocates already are threatening lawsuits against an unprecedented abortion ban adopted by the Alabama Senate overnight and now heading to the governor.
Regarded as the strictest in the nation, it makes performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years in jail, unless the life of the mother is in danger. And there are no exceptions for rape and incest. Women who have an abortion are not punishable under the law.
The lawsuits are exactly what supporters of the bill want.
Their intent is far greater than banning abortion in one state; they want to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that created a right to abortion.
They point to Roe’s fatal flaw, noted in the majority opinion by Associate Justice Harry Blackmun, that the ruling falls apart if the “personhood” of the fetus could be established.
AL.com reported there were several hours of “contentious debate” before the Senate voted 25-6 to pass the law.
A similar measure already had been approved in the House.
Supporters fought off several attempts to add rape and incest exceptions because they want a “clean bill” that opens the door to court cases and a path to the U.S. Supreme Court for a review of Roe.
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey now will have to decide whether to sign the law, veto it or let it become law without a signature.
Even as lawmakers were voting, abortion advocates were protesting outside, promising the court challenges, which is exactly what the law’s authors and supporters want.
A spokeswoman for the governor has said she will review the final plan before commenting. But observers pointed out that the lopsided vote means an override would be likely.
State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, a Republican, explained: “Roe v. Wade has ended the lives of millions of children. While we cannot undo the damage that decades of legal precedence under Roe have caused, this bill has the opportunity to save the lives of millions of unborn children.”
The vote was part of a national movement to overturn Roe amid the appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court of two conservative justices.
Just a day ago, James Dobson, president of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk and the James Dobson Family Institute, said he’s praying that a Georgia law that is part of the campaign would play a role in overturning Roe.
If that happens, the legality of abortions would rest with individual states.
Georgia’s legislature recently adopted a “heartbeat” bill banning abortion after an unborn infant’s heartbeat is detected, making it the sixth state, the fourth just this year, to set that standard. At least half a dozen other states are working on similar laws.
When Blackmun wrote the Roe opinion, science was unclear about the personhood of the unborn.
Blackmun wrote, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, [the pro-abortion] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
Staci Fox, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Alabama, which stands to lose considerable income because of the law, said Alabama politicians “will forever live in infamy” for trying to protect the lives of the unborn.
If it becomes law, it would be effective in six months. Randall Marshall of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama told AP a lawsuit already is being drafted.
DailyMail.com reported bills to protect the lives of the unborn already have been proposed in more than a dozen states this year, with several signed into law.
Georgia, Ohio and Mississippi are among the states that have adopted such laws. In Arkansas, North Dakota, Iowa and Kentucky the laws have been approved but blocked by courts. Each of those cases also could wind up in the Supreme Court.
States where the idea is being developed include Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Teas, Missouri, Florida, West Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, Kansas, Illinois and New York.