MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The strictest abortion law in the country has an effective date of November 15th, but court challenges mean it's on hold for the foreseeable future.
Alabama made headlines when Governor Ivey signed the strictest abortion ban in the country. HB 314 makes performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases including rape and incest.
Less than two weeks later a lawsuit was filed against the state.
In June the plaintiffs, including the ACLU of Alabama and a Huntsville abortion provider, filed for a preliminary injunction to stop the law from going into effect.
This week attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants filed a joint court submission saying both sides would agree to push the effective date back to May 24, 2020, if it's not possible to resolve the case before November.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs and the Alabama attorney general cannot agree on how the case should move forward.
There is a disagreement over whether or not to move forward with discovery - something Attorney General Steve Marshall believes should be allowed.
In a statement he released Wednesday he said, "The U.S. Supreme Court often assesses new facts when determining whether its precedents should be reconsidered. In defending H.B. 314, we intend to submit evidence that supports our argument that the Supreme Court erred in deciding two key abortion cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Because developing a record can take time, we stated in our court filing this week that we would be willing to agree to a temporary stay of the law if that could help us make our case that Alabama’s law is constitutional. We will be filing briefs on August 5 in the district court that will address these issues.”
But ACLU of Alabama executive director Randall Marshall doesn't think discovery is appropriate.
"It's hard to imagine what this quote-unquote new evidence is. The procedure is the same, the length of pregnancy is the same, there may be some technological advances as to when the date of viability is, but that really is the only question does Alabama law's ban abortions prior to viability and if it does its unconstitutional. And clearly it does because it bans abortions under any circumstance," said Randall Marshall.
The ACLU executive director also says the discovery process will add additional costs to the legal process.
"Our position is that plaintiffs shouldn't have to expend time and resources to litigate something that is well established and the supreme court does not look like it's in a hurry to grant review in any case involving abortions," he said.
This week a judge ordered that the state must file a response to the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction by August 5th. The judge also ordered the state to file a brief regarding discovery by the same date. The plaintiffs must file their regarding discovery August 19th.