The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Alabama’s appeal of a lower court decision overturning Alabama’s outlawing of abortions on Friday. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released a statement to social media expressing his disappointment with the decision but said he’s optimistic that a “day of reckoning” is coming for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
“I am disappointed the United State Supreme Court has decided not to hear Alabama’s appeal of a lower court decision that invalidated our state law, enacted in 2016, prohibiting dismemberment abortions, a method of killing an unborn child that can not be described even in clinical terms to hide its monstrosity and gruesomeness.” Marshall said. “This case would not have, however, accomplished by itself what needs doing and that is overturning Roe and its unconstitutional progeny. Writing about our case, Justice Clarence Thomas stated: ‘The notion that anything in the Constitution prevents states from passing laws preventing the dismemberment of a human child is implausible … This case serves as a stark reminder that our abortion jurisprudence has spiraled out of control.’”
The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act in 2016 easily passed the Alabama Legislature, but two abortion clinics and the ACLU sued to stop it from going into effect. Judge Myron Thompson declared the law unconstitutional.
Dilation and evacuation (D&E) is the procedure used for nearly all abortions that occur after 15 weeks in Alabama, which make up only 7 percent of the abortions in the state.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the law in 2018. On Friday, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of that decision.
The Executive Director at the ACLU of Alabama Randall Marshall said he was not surprised by the decision.
“We are not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision to deny review in this case,” Marshall said in a statement. “In doing so, they are upholding the Supreme Court’s own precedents dating back to 1973 in protecting a woman’s right to access the healthcare she needs. A woman’s health, not Alabama politicians, should drive personal medical decisions.”
The Susan B. Anthony List criticized the court’s decision.
“Unborn children and mothers will continue to be victimized by the abortion industry while the court does nothing,” the pro-life group responded in a statement. “Justice Thomas is absolutely right when he says: ‘This case serves as a stark reminder that our abortion jurisprudence has spiraled out of control … We cannot continue blinking the reality of what this court has wrought.’”
Staci Fox is the president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Southeast.
“This is a major victory for Alabamians and people everywhere,” Fox said. “The courts have for now protected our constitutional right to access abortion. But the fight is far from over. We are laser focused on Alabama’s latest attack on reproductive health and rights — HB 314, the outright abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. Today, we celebrate, and tomorrow, we continue our work to make sure that abortion remains safe, legal and available in Alabama and across the U.S.”
The loss is costly for the state because it means that the state will have to compensate the ACLU and the abortionists for their legal fees.
“We have warned the state of Alabama that these lawsuits are likely to lose in court, but despite these warnings, the state has tried to insert government into overruling expert medical decisions,” Marshall added. “Now the state will have to pay millions of taxpayer dollars, at a time when the state is struggling to pay for education, rural healthcare, roads, prisons and more.”
In 2019, the Legislature passed HB314, banning almost all abortions in Alabama, in hopes that the Supreme Court will reconsider Roe v. Wade itself.
“While we are pleased to see the end of this particular case, we know that it is nowhere near the end of efforts to undermine access to abortion,” said ACLU attorney Andrew Beck in a statement. “Politicians are lining up to do just what Alabama did — ask the courts to review laws that push abortion out of reach and harm women’s health, with the hope of the getting the Supreme Court to undermine, or even overturn, a woman’s right to abortion.”