The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging Alabama’s recent legislation that bans abortion in nearly all cases and punishes doctors who perform abortions.
The lawsuit is challenging House Bill 314 or the “Human Life Protection Act,” which bans all abortions in the state except cases where there is a serious health risk to the mother. The law makes it a Class A felony for any doctor to perform an abortion, carrying with it a threat of up to 99 years in prison. The legislation also labeled attempted abortions as a Class C felony.
The bill was approved and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey on May 15.
HB314 is one of several abortion restrictions being implemented by various states that was passed with the intent to challenge Roe v. Wade and force a ruling by the Supreme Court, which currently has a conservative majority after President Donald Trump appointed Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the court.
“Our patients at Alabama Women’s Center already have to overcome so much just to get to our doors, and this law further shames them, punishes providers like myself, and stigmatizes essential health care,” said Dr. Yashica Robinson, comprehensive women’s health specialist and owner of Alabama Women’s Center, who is a plaintiff in the case. “Alabama has a long track record of passing laws designed to close clinics and push abortion care out of reach, and just like we have before, we will fight for our patients and do all we can to stay open and continue serving our community.”
In addition to Robinson, the plaintiffs in the case include Planned Parenthood Southeast and Alabama’s three abortion clinics, Reproductive Health Services, Alabama Women’s Center and the West Alabama Women’s Center.
Bills proposed in other states have included restrictions on how late in a pregnancy an abortion can be obtained, such as “heartbeat” bills that ban abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks, before many women know that they are pregnant. Alabama’s HB314 is the most restrictive law of them all. These bills sparked several protests across the nation, drawing thousands who oppose restrictions on abortion.
Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, sponsor of HB314, said in a statement she expected a lawsuit to be filed by “ultra-liberal” groups like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU and that the goal of the bill has always been to challenge the “constitutional abomination” of Roe v. Wade.
“This lawsuit is simply the first battle in what we hope will ultimately be a victorious effort to overturn Roe and protect unborn babies from harm,” Collins said. “Alabama’s state motto is ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights,’ and I am deeply proud that this Legislature, this governor, and this state are leading the charge to defend the rights of the unborn.”
However, Staci Fox, President and CEO at Planned Parenthood Southeast, said defending rights is the goal behind the push to defeat the law and keep abortion legal across the country.
“Abortion has been safe and legal in this country for more than 45 years and we aim to keep it that way,” Fox said. “We are protecting the rights of our patients. We are defending the work of the brave folks who came before us. And we are fighting to take this country forward, not backwards.”
Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri have also enacted laws restricting abortion.
The ACLU has already obtained an injunction blocking the Kentucky ban. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood Federation of America have also filed suit against Ohio’s ban and are preparing a legal challenge in Georgia.
No abortion ban, including Alabama’s, is in effect and abortion remains legal with varying restrictions in all 50 states.