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AG Steve Marshall seeks to prosecute out-of-state abortion care

Marshall asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former abortion providers in the state seeking injunctive relief.

Attorney General Steve Marshall speaks at a press conference after state and federal law enforcement raided 14 bingo halls in Jefferson County.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has already made it clear that he intends to prosecute health care providers on felony charges if they help Alabamians receive an abortion out of state. 

Marshall reiterated that stance Wednesday, asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former abortion providers in the state seeking injunctive relief.

“An elective abortion performed in Alabama would be a criminal offense; thus, a conspiracy formed in the State to have that same act performed outside the State is illegal,” the brief said. “Plaintiffs identify no constitutional provision that would bar the State from enforcing that law.”

Megan Burrows, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project told Alander Rocha with Alabama Reflector Thursday that the brief reinforces the need for the lawsuit.

“I think the Attorney General’s motion to dismiss just really indicates that the office is doubling down on their intent to use Alabama criminal laws to prosecute people for helping pregnant Alabamians get access to legal abortion care out of state.”

Marshall argues in the brief that the right to travel does not mean a conspiracy can be carried out in the state to help someone complete a criminal act outside the state.

“Likewise, the right to travel, to the extent that it is even implicated, does not grant plaintiffs the right to carry out a criminal conspiracy simply because they propose to do so by purchasing bus passes or driving cars,” the motion said.

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The motion also claims a conflict of interest between the plaintiffs and their clients.

“By promoting out-of-state abortions, in-state abortion providers necessarily advance their own financial and repetitional interests irrespective of any costs (or even benefits) it may have on the women consulting them,” the motion said. “Thus, plaintiffs and pregnant women have a potential conflict of interest, barring third-party standing.”

The lawsuit, filed by ACLU on behalf of West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa; Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville and Dr. Yashica Robinson of Huntsville claims that the state has no authority to prosecute in these cases.

“That would be a blatant extraterritorial overreach of state power that not only contravenes the Due Process Clause, the First Amendment and the fundamental constitutional right to travel, but also the most foundational principles of comity upon which our federalist system rests,” the lawsuit stated.

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

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