Alabama Legislature

Lawsuit Filed Challenging Alabama’s Abortion Law

Abortion rights supporters march around downtown Birmingham on Sunday, May 19, 2019. (Source: Andrew Yeager,WBHM)

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit Friday seeking to block Alabama’s strict new abortion law.

“We are proud to take this fight to the state,” Staci Fox, president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said. “They asked for it, and we promised it, and today we delivered.”

Alabama’s law, which was signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last week, makes it a felony to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy with the only exception for a serious health risk to the woman. There’s no exception for rape or incest. A doctor convicted under the law could face up to 99 years in prison.

The lawsuit says the near ban is unconstitutional and would harm women.

“We hope our state’s elected leaders take note and stop using taxpayer dollars on a legal gamble that they know is unconstitutional and unenforceable,” said Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama.

A spokesman for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Marshall is reviewing the lawsuit and has no further comment.

Supporters of the law say it’s designed to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. They also say they expect to lose at the lower court level. Their hope is that the addition of two conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, will mean the high court rules in their favor.

Alabama’s law is part of a wave of state laws that restrict the procedure. Recently approved laws in Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. None of the laws have taken effect and all are expected to be blocked by the courts as the legal challenges play out with an ultimate eye on the Supreme Court.

This story includes reporting from the Associated Press.