Bill that would ban abortions filed in Alabama House

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2019

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, R– Decatur, introduced 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.”

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Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, is one of the many lawmakers to co-sponsor the bill.

“I’m proud to co-sponsor this pro-life bill,” Allen said. “We must do all we can to protect life and the human rights of the unborn. This bill will save thousands of Alabama children.”

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.

Jane Ward, executive director of Sav-a-Life of Troy, said the bill would be a “win-win” for the community.

“It will send a message to our government that we do care for the preborn,” Ward said. “Whether it is planned or not planned, it is a life.”

The name of the center “Sav-a-Life,” is based on saving the lives of unborn children by helping mothers through unplanned pregnancies. Even if abortion is made illegal in Alabama though, Ward said the center would continue to provide assistance to women who are navigating an unplanned pregnancy.

“We’re in the position to provide as much assistance as possible to a person that’s in that situation; we’re in a place that we can help them,” Ward said. “We’re going to show love to our clients and are going to serve them as best we can.”

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 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.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.