Signed into existence admittedly to push the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Alabama’s Governor, Kay Ivey, and supporters of Alabama’s abortion bill surmise that they might lose the battle of the bill but emerge victorious in the war over abortion rights that will be held on the stage of the Supreme Court according to reporters at Buzzfeed News.
The Alabama abortion bill, otherwise known as H.B. 314, is the strictest among a slew of abortion bills that have been signed in the states of Kentucky, Mississipi, and Ohio over the course of the last two years. While the latter three states are striving to make abortions illegal after a heartbeat is detected, which occurs at approximately six weeks into a pregnancy, Alabama’s bill seeks to do more. Not only does Alabama’s law desire to make abortions illegal at any stage of a woman’s pregnancy – with the exception of the presence of a “serious” risk to the life of the mother – but it also attempts to incriminate doctors who violate the law by providing abortions. These doctors would be subject to potential time in prison, as well as fines and the loss of their medical licenses. While the women upon whom the jailed or fined doctors operated upon would not be criminally liable, women seeking abortions will most likely have to resort to traveling to neighboring states if the law goes into effect. Moreover, what constitutes a “serious” risk to the mother’s health from the perspectives of those who wrote and signed the bill is questionable at best given the additional restrictions placed on cases in which “serious” risk is applicable.
Roe v. Wade
However, none of the laws attempting to illegalize abortion can be passed until Roe v. Wade is overturned in the Supreme Court. Passed in 1973, Roe v. Wade established women’s constitutional right to abortion and only if overturned would the currently signed abortion laws go into effect. So, in accordance with Buzzfeed News reporters, even though Alabama’s law is projected to go into effect in November of 2019 the overturning process could take up to a year’s time consequently delaying the law, if passed, until this time next year.
Planned Parenthood & The ACLU File A Lawsuit
Given the emerging threats to women’s constitutional right to abortion, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a collective lawsuit against Alabama’s abortion law on May 15, 2019. The reproductive rights groups are accusing Alabama’s law of attempting to strip women of their rights to liberty and privacy as guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. The collective lawsuit contains the following statement from the groups’ lawyers: “Absent an order from this Court, H.B. 314 is scheduled to take effect on November 15, 2019, at which point Plaintiffs will be forced to stop providing and/or referring for abortions. Enforcement of the Ban will thereby inflict immediate and irreparable harm on Plaintiffs’ patients by violating their constitutional rights, threatening their health and well-being, and forcing them to continue their pregnancies to term against their will.”
Maintaining Roe v. Wade
But defeating Alabama’s abortion law is only one step in the journey to preventing Roe v. Wade from being overturned as Alabama’s governor has clearly communicated that she signed Alabama’s abortion law, not with the intention of its going into effect in the exact, extremely strict terms in which it was written, but for the purpose of forcing the point of Roe v. Wade in the hope that the constitutional precedent that has allowed women access to abortions will be eliminated. Lawsuits against the abortion laws in Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio are also pending.