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Abortion fund sues AG to prevent prosecution of people helping women seek abortions

Two separate suits have been filed challenging threats of prosecution against such individuals.

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The Yellowhammer Fund Monday asked a federal court to prevent Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall from carrying out prosecutions against people helping women leave the state to access abortion.

Yellowhammer Fund is an organization that provides funding and practical support to pregnant Alabamians who are forced to leave their home state and often travel hundreds of miles to access legal abortion care. 

“Today, we filed this lawsuit in the courthouse next to the Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, Alabama challenging the State’s efforts to restrict travel for abortion care.  The symbolism is not lost on us,” said Jenice Fountain, executive director at the Yellowhammer Fund. “Abortion funds do more than simply provide aid. They send a message of solidarity to those who are persecuted by the State of Alabama for seeking to control their reproductive health. That message is both that our humanity and dignity are interconnected and that the State’s efforts to isolate and oppress pregnant people cannot break that bond. The attorney general objects to that message and has targeted us and those who wish to help pregnant people leave the state for lawful abortion care.”

Three Alabama healthcare providers, who formerly performed abortions in the state before the overturn of Roe v. Wade, also filed suit against the practice.

Robin Marty, operations director of the West Alabama Women’s Center, said the threats from Marshall have prevented the staff from sharing “vital information” with patients.

“As a result of the Attorney General’s threat, my staff cannot provide vital information and recommendations regarding legal medical care in other states, despite their expertise and professional knowledge as to which out-of-state providers are best suited to each patient’s specific medical circumstances, because they know that to do so is to open themselves up to potential arrest and prosecution,” Marty said. “Our patients trust and rely on us to provide them with medically accurate, patient-centered care. When we cannot share information with patients about all of their options during pregnancy, including those options that are legal and available outside Alabama, the physician-patient relationship is put in jeopardy and our patients are harmed. Alabama is our home, and we won’t leave or stop fighting until everyone in our state is able to access the care they need.”

Plaintiffs include the Alabama Women’s Center and Dr. Yashica Robinson. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Meagan Burrows, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, called the threats of legal action from the attorney general “blatantly unconstitutional.

“When Marshall threatens criminal liability for anyone who facilitates interstate travel for legal abortion care, his purpose is clear: to extend Alabama’s abortion ban across state lines and discourage and burden the free movement of Alabamians,” Burrows said. “We are hopeful the court will recognize that the threatened prosecutions far exceed the limits of the state’s powers, and will ensure that pregnant Alabamians can once again access information and support for all their legal options.”

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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