Alabama lawmakers seek ban on almost all abortions
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama could be the latest state to consider an abortion ban as supporters hope to spark legal challenges to revisit Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Rep. Terri Collins, a Republican from Decatur, said she plans to introduce legislation Tuesday that would make it a felony to perform an abortion in Alabama at any stage of pregnancy. The only exemption would be for the health of the mother.
“This bill just truly confronts Roe versus Wade and it criminalizes abortion,” Collins said. “To me this is an issue the court simply got wrong years ago.”
Collins and Eric Johnston, director of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, said the hope is to ignite a legal fight and eventually get the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.
“It is meant to get to SCOTUS so they can review it,” Johnston said.
It could also serve as a trigger law that would take effect to ban abortions if Roe is ever overturned by another case.
Collins said the bill has a good chance of winning approval, noting she already has several dozen co-sponsors lined up for the bill. Collins said she believes she has more co-sponsors than the votes needed to pass the bill in the 105-member House of Representatives.
Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said the law would be challenged.
“If enacted, it has no chance of surviving a legal challenge. This notion that we’re doing this to get it up to the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade, I think is faulty thinking,” Marshall said.
Marshall said he believes while the court may eventually uphold new abortion restrictions but, “optimistically, from our point of view, we don’t see an outright overturning of Roe and the last 40 plus years of case law.”
Nationwide, abortion opponents, energized by new conservatives on the Supreme Court, are seeking to create cases to challenge Roe.
The Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, said 304 proposals to restrict abortion in some form have been introduced in states across the country so far this year.
Collins previously sponsored fetal heartbeat legislation in Alabama, but said with many states pushing that idea this year, the idea was to try something different, since Alabama would be behind timewise in the legal fight over those measures.
Johnston said the Alabama legislation would be more restrictive than heartbeat bills and ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
Alabama in recent years has passed several abortion restrictions and seen them struck down by the federal courts. Marshall said the state was ordered to pay $1.7 million to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU after their successful challenge to a law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges
The U.S. Supreme Court next month is expected to decide if it will hear Alabama’s appeal of a court ruling striking down the state’s attempt to ban the most commonly used second trimester abortion procedure.
Collins said the legislation follows up on Alabama voters’ decision in November to put anti-abortion language in the state constitution specifying that the state recognizes the “rights of unborn children.” Fifty-nine percent of voters approved the constitutional amendment.