Updated: Jan 21, 2020
This past Wednesday, the Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, signed a controversial abortion bill. This bill would punish doctors that allow and perform abortions with life in prison.
The Republican governor stated, “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.”
The Senate passed the bill on a vote 25 to 6 which only gives exemptions to make sure the child’s mother is not in a health risk or if the child has a fatal disorder.
The law is the strictest in the country. It makes abortion completely illegal in all cases, even cases like rape and incest. Before in Alabama, any woman considering an abortion is required to get state-mandated counseling to discourage her from going through with the procedure. After, women are required to wait 2 days before getting an abortion. Minors need to get parental consent.
The new law, though, may not be able to be enforced because of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision. This court case legalized abortion in all the states. But, Ivey passed her ban to challenge that decision.
In six months, it would be in effect, carrying penalties for people violating the restrictions. Doctors that perform an abortion in Alabama could receive 99 years in prison. This punishment is similar to the punishment for murderers and rapists.
The Planned Parenthood Organization and American Civil Liberties Union announced their plan to file lawsuits against this new law because, it was unconstitutional. The arguments over the morale of the ban will work its way through courts, holding up any enforcement.
Elisabeth Smith who is the chief counsel of State Policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights said, “There is nearly 50 years of precedent that says this law is unconstitutional. Regardless of what district judge hears this case, there is no argument that Alabama can make that this law is constitutional.”
This is not the first state that had tried to make an anti-abortion law. Since 2017, Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa, and North Dakota passed laws that banned abortions as soon as there was a detected fetal heartbeat. But, none of them have been enforced because of the litigation that stops it from going into effect.
Due to this, many women were confused, calling agencies with questions on how it would impact upcoming appointments on their pregnancy. In Alabama, victims of domestic violence and rapes called as they were concerned that they didn’t have a choice in ending their pregnancy anymore.
The new legislation creates an even bigger negative stigma around abortion. As Dr. Yashica Robinson, one of the last remaining abortion providers, says, “Women have it ingrained in us that abortion is bad. For there to be a law that has been passed that takes this right away from us, it makes that even more concrete.”