ACLU, Planned Parenthood Sue Alabama over Abortion Ban

May 24, 2019 by Dan McCue
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg attends a rally at the Supreme Court in reaction to the passage of bills in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and other states that restrict access to abortion on May 21, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge on Friday to block an Alabama law that bans nearly all abortions and makes performing the procedure a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison.

The law, which is considered the most stringent anti-abortion legislation in the nation, is set to take effect in November.

“Make no mistake: Abortion remains – and will remain – safe and legal in Alabama,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama.

“With this lawsuit, we are seeking a court order to make sure this law never takes effect,” he added.

The complaint filed in Montgomery, Alabama, on behalf of Planned Parenthood, three clinics that perform abortions, and Dr. Yashica Robinson, an obstetrician, argues that criminalizing abortion is clearly unconstitutional and would harm women by forcing them to continue pregnancies against their will.

“For over 46 years — since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade — U.S. law has recognized the fundamental constitutional right to make the profoundly important and personal decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy,” the complaint says.

Alabama is just one of several conservative states who have adopted more stringent rules on abortion in the hope they’ll result in legal challenges allowing the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Governors in Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.

None of the laws have taken effect and all are expected to be blocked by the courts as the legal challenges play out.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who signed the law, has acknowledged that it is unenforceable, but state Representative Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill, said that’s beside the point.

“This lawsuit is simply the first battle in what we hope will ultimately be a victorious effort to overturn Roe and protect unborn babies from harm,” Collins said.

In related news, a federal judge on Friday evening blocked a Mississippi law that banned abortions once a fetus’s heartbeat is detected, often around six weeks into pregnancy.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote the law “threatens immediate harm to women’s rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortion services until after 6 weeks.”

“This injury outweighs any interest the state might have in banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat,” he said.

The ruling will prevent the law from taking effect on July 1 as scheduled after being signed by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant earlier this year.

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