Abortion advocates already are threatening lawsuits over a new abortion ban, adopted by the Alabama Senate overnight and now heading to the governor, that is being called the strictest in the nation. It makes it a felony for an abortionist to do an abortion unless the life of the mother is in danger.
And there are no exceptions for rape and incest.
But those lawsuits are exactly what bill supporters want.
Their intent is far larger than just halting abortions in one state; they want to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court opinion written by Harry Blackmun, who himself had doubts about the result, that created the right to abortion.
AL.com described how there were several hours of “contentious debate” before the Senate voted 25-6 to pass the law.
It reported a similar measure already had been approved in the House.
Supporters fought off several attempts to add rape and incest exceptions because they want what they call a “clean bill” that opens the door to court fights and a path to the U.S. Supreme Court for a review of Roe.
Gov. Kay Ivey now will have to decide whether to sign the law, veto, or let it become law without a signature.
Even as lawmakers were voting, abortion advocates were protesting outside, promising those court challenges – which is exactly what the law’s authors and supporters want.
The proposal makes it a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for an abortion provider. Women are not punished under the plan.
A spokeswoman for the governor has said she will review the final plan before commenting, but observers pointed out that the lopsided vote offers the option for an easy veto override if that’s needed.
Sen. Clyde Chambliss, a Republican, explained, “Roe v. Wade has ended the lives of millions of children. While we cannot undo the damage that decades of legal precedence under Roe have caused, this bill has the opportunity to save the lives of millions of unborn children.”
The vote was just part of what is developing as a national movement to overturn Roe with the ascension to the U.S. Supreme Court of two justices who are on the conservative side of the political spectrum.
Just a day ago, James Dobson, president of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk and the James Dobson Family Institute, said he’s praying that a Georgia law which is part of the campaign would play a role in overturning the abortion law.
If that happens, the decisions on the legality of abortions would rest with individual states.
The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision created a right to abortion, a precedent allowing business operations through which Planned Parenthood gets tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.
Georgia’s legislature recently adopted a “heartbeat” bill disallowing abortion after an unborn infant’s heartbeat is detected, making it the sixth state, the fourth just this year, to set that standard. At least half a dozen other states are working on similar laws.
The author of the majority opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun, acknowledged that the concept of personhood for the unborn was the key to the issue.
At that time, science was unclear about the personhood of the unborn.
Blackmun wrote, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, [the pro-abortion] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
Staci Fox, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Alabama, which stands to lose considerable income because of the law, said Alabama politicians “will forever live in infamy” for trying to protect the lives of the unborn.
If it becomes law, it would be effective in six months, and Randall Marshall, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, told AP a lawsuit, the goal of the bill’s proponents, already is being drafted.
The Daily Mail reported laws to protect the lives of the unborn already have been proposed in more than a dozen states this year, including several whose governors have signed those plans into law already.
Georgia, Ohio and Mississippi are among the states where those laws have been adopted, and in Arkansas, North Dakota, Iowa and Kentucky the laws have been approved but blocked initially by courts. Each of those cases also could wind up in the Supreme Court, too.
States where the idea is being developed include Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Teas, Missouri, Florida, West Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, Kansas, Illinois and New York.