State enacts 2019 law making most abortions illegal

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2022

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On Friday, the Supreme Court released its opinion abolishing the constitutional right to an abortion, which had been guaranteed for nearly a half-century by the landmark case Roe v. Wade.

The law was overturned in the Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In the decision, the Court upheld a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The period for abortion is nearly two months earlier than what the High Court had allowed dating back to the 1973 Roe decision.

The majority justices said the Roe decision was “egregiously wrong,” now leaving the legality of abortion in the hands of each state.

While the decision is being celebrated, some groups, like Sav-A-Life said it is important to continue efforts in assisting women and providing support for unplanned pregnancy.

“Sav-A-Life of Covington County has been serving women who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy for over 30 years.  We have provided prayer, encouragement, maternity and baby clothing, baby formula, parenting classes for new moms,  ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, and much more — encouraging a respect for the sanctity or value of life. The ministry of Sav-a-Life is free of charge because the churches and the broader community of Covington County love the women and families we serve enough to provide funding to operate the ministry. We serve our clients with compassion and confidentiality.

“Because of our convictions, we support life and, individually, we oppose abortion, so of course we are pleased with the Supreme Court decision to return decisions on abortion to the states, after 50 years of a court-imposed right.  But our opposition leads us to simply offer alternatives.  Our goal is to love every woman that approaches us for service, and we want to communicate that each life is precious.  We expect to continue this ministry for many more years because there will continue to be unplanned pregnancies,” local Sav-A-Life representatives said in a written statement.

In Alabama, a 2019 abortion ban went into effect by Friday afternoon. Initially, there was a federal injunction halting that law. However, U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson lifted the injunction a few hours after the Dobbs decision since no federal or state law protects abortion rights. Under that law, the Legislature banned abortions except in medical emergencies, ectopic pregnancies, a fetus with a condition that would cause it to be stillborn or die after birth, or if a psychiatrist diagnoses a woman with a severe mental illness that would lead to suicide or killing the child if she gave birth. The state did not provide exceptions for incest or rape.

“Today is a truly historic day. The United States Supreme Court has, at long last, finally overturned its fatally flawed decision in Roe v. Wade. The issue of abortion now returns to the States — and the State of Alabama has unequivocally elected to be a protector of unborn life,” said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

The AG also ordered that all operations performing abortions to cease immediately.

“Because neither the United States Constitution nor the Alabama Constitution provides a right to abortion, Alabama laws that prohibit abortion and that have not been enjoined by a court are in full effect. For those laws that have been halted by courts, the State will immediately file motions to dissolve those injunctions. Any abortionist or abortion clinic operating in the State of Alabama in violation of Alabama law should immediately cease and desist operations.

“Furthermore, any act of vandalism or violence against any crisis pregnancy center, church, or other pro-life entity in retaliation for today’s decision will be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office to the fullest extent of the law,” Marshall said.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Federal Judge Myron Thompson dissolved the preliminary injunction on the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, allowing the 2019 legislation to become state law.

“This is a historic day, and I could not be more proud as a governor, a Christian and a woman to see this misguided and detrimental decision overturned,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “Now, the federal court did for the state of Alabama what the U.S. Supreme Court did for the entire nation: It returned the decision-making authority to the proper body. I am pleased to see the process move forward so that we can now enforce the Alabama Human Life Protection Act here in our state, which honors both the constitution and the rule of law. Alabama will continue standing up for our unborn babies, our mothers and our families.”

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Alabama Democrats Chair Rep. Chris England said the decision will only make worse Alabama’s healthcare problems.

“Because of laws passed by our Republican legislature, abortion services will be illegal in Alabama — a felony that could force doctors to face up to 99 years in prison for providing medical care to their patients, even in the case of rape. Republican legislators and appointed judges think they should be sitting between you and your doctor while making medical decisions.

“Republican politicians will claim this is a win for ‘life’ in a state with high infant mortality rates, a Black maternal mortality crisis, and countless other public health crises. They refuse to expand Medicaid, providing free lifesaving healthcare access to Alabama families — or do anything else that actually sanctifies life for Alabamians. Now, their law will block abortion access in Alabama, negatively affecting women with the fewest resources the most.

“While the Supreme Court has turned back the clock decades on our freedoms — Alabama Democrats still stand strongly for Alabamians’ freedom to make their own medical decisions — especially their right to abortion.

“In the meantime, we need Democrats in Washington to act and pass laws that protect abortion access for all Americans. We need federal action now.”