ACLU challenges Jones’ abortion legislation

Published 11:12 pm Thursday, October 2, 2014

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is challenging a new abortion Alabama law that resulted from legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia.

The law was passed on the last day of the 2014 legislative session and took effect on July 1.

Alabama law requires minors seeking an abortion to have parental consent, but it also allows juvenile courts to grant exceptions for girls who can’t involve their parents because they have been victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse or because seeking consent would not be in their best interest.

In a news release, the ACLU said the law imposes more restrictions on minors seeking abortions without parental consent than any other law in the country, adding that the process for getting an abortion without parental consent is comparable to the girl standing trial.

To get an abortion without parental consent, a minor must have the blessing of a juvenile judge. That judge can also appoint an attorney to represent the unborn child.

The minor must also prove that she understands the medical procedure and that she has been counseled by a qualified person on the alternatives to abortion.

Jones has previously said he didn’t consider the law an abortion law, but a child protection law. It’s a sentiment he echoed as recently as Tuesday night in a town hall meeting in Opp.

“It’s really not an abortion law,” he said. “Previously, minors, if they were to seek an abortion, had to have parental consent. The law didn’t say you had to verify the person who was signing the parental consent form had to prove he was the parent.”

Thursday, when news of the suit broke, he issued the following statement:

“This law ensures that if a minor is seeking an abortion without parental consent, they fully understand the ramifications of their decision and prove that they are wholly aware of its impact – it’s that simple.

“This act clarified previous law to provide judges and court officers with much-needed guidance on the procedures for these types of determinations, which are very important to the health and well-being of our minors, all while keeping proper safeguards in place to protect their privacy.”

The ACLU filed the lawsuit in federal court in Montgomery on behalf of Reproductive Health Services, a Montgomery abortion clinic. The suit names Attorney General Luther Strange and Montgomery District Attorney Daryl D. Bailey as defendants.