Anti-abortion van parked outside of an Alabama abortion clinic. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, just signed a bill that deems abortion a crime punishable by law – including the doctors that perform the procedure and the mother of the unborn child who seeks it. The Alabama Senate passed the bill 25-6. The law only allows exceptions “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.” Rape is not considered a health risk: democrats instituted an amendment to exclude rape and incest victims from law-enforcement punishments. The proposal failed on an 11-21 vote.

If the bill passes, the penalties will be enforced 6 months later – putting into effect strict punishments for any and all parties involved. According to CNN, “Given the amount of legal challenges it’s likely to face, along with past rulings on other anti-abortion legislation, the law will probably be tied up in court for years, delaying enforcement. The Supreme Court has discretion over what cases it hears, and there is no guarantee the justices would take up the Alabama ban if it is struck down in lower courts.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood have already announced plans to file lawsuits against the Alabama bill, arguing it’s unconstitutional. These organizations, as they have in the past, will likely also ask federal district courts for a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order to prevent the law from going into effect, while arguments over the constitutionality of the law work their way through the courts. That means a federal judge would decide whether to temporarily block the law or allow it to take effect. US district judges routinely block anti-abortion laws from taking effect while litigation is underway. It can take years for the Supreme Court to hear a case, if it chooses to hear the case at all. The nation’s highest court decides which cases it wants to take, and it might not take up the Alabama law if it’s struck down in lower courts.”


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