Alabama could become home to what’s being called the “nation’s most restrictive abortion ban.”
On Wednesday, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, which comes close to a total ban on abortions.
The southern state is not alone in the effort to limit abortions. But the fights won’t end within their Capitols.
Here’s a look at what’s happened and what may come.
The law, which is intended to take effect in six months, comes close to banning abortion.
Abortion and attempted abortion will be considered felonies, except when necessary to “prevent a serious health risk” to the mother, according to the bill. There is no exception for women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
While the woman receiving the abortion would not be prosecuted, doctors performing the procedure could face up to 99 years in prison, according to the New York Times.
Ivey said the measure “stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.” The governor suggested the bill would result in a welcome legal challenge of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision recognizing a constitutional right to abortion.
“Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973,” Ivey wrote in a statement. “The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.”
While it may be the strictest, Alabama’s efforts join a slew of other states that have passed or are considering strict anti-abortion measures. Earlier this month, Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law banning abortions at about six weeks, when the fetus has a detectable heartbeat — similar to recent bills in Mississippi and Ohio.
It’s no coincidence that the measures are making their way through state governments following Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, “filling anti-abortion activists with hope that their 40-year effort to overturn Roe entirely might finally succeed,” the Times wrote.
“There are many states that believe that the time is now for the Supreme Court to reconsider the blanket prohibition that Roe v. Wade expressed,” Steven Arden, general counsel of anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, told the Times.
It was certainly the intention of Alabama State Rep. Terri Collins, co-sponsor of Alabama’s bill.
“This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection,” Collins said, according to the Washington Post. “This is the way we get where we want to get eventually.”
Legal challenges. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio have filed a lawsuit challenging Ohio’s ban, which is expected to take effect in July.
“At six weeks, most people don’t even know they’re pregnant,” Kersha Deibel, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, said in a statement. “We’re challenging this law because it would take away a person’s right to make their own medical decisions before they even know they have a decision to make."
Alabama’s efforts are expected to be challenged, too — the ACLU wrote on Twitter that it would "sue to stop this law from ever taking effect.”
"In the coming days, we will be mounting the fight of our lives — we will take this to court and ensure abortion remains safe and legal,” said Staci Fox, the president of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, according to the Times.