Alabama abortion ban ruled "unconstitutional"

29 October 2019, 17:45

The proposed legislation has been met with protests across the US
The proposed legislation has been met with protests across the US. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A US judge has blocked Alabama's near-total abortion ban from taking effect next month.

Attempts by Alabama lawmakers to enforce a law banning abortion in almost all cases has been ruled to be "unconstitutional" by a US federal judge.

The ruling came after abortion providers sued to block the law from taking effect on November 15.

US District Judge Myron Thompson issued a preliminary injunction blocking Alabama from enforcing the law, which would make performing an abortion a felony in almost all cases.

Judge Thompson wrote: "Alabama's abortion ban contravenes clear Supreme Case Court precedent.

"It violates the right of an individual to privacy, to make choices central to personal dignity and autonomy. It diminishes the capacity of women to act in society, and to make reproductive decisions. It defies the United States Constitution."

Both sides had anticipated the Alabama law would be blocked by a federal judge since it contradicts Supreme Court precedent.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signing the bill to virtually outlaw abortion in the state
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signing the bill to virtually outlaw abortion in the state. Picture: PA

The law has come as part of a wave of abortion restrictions by conservative states.

Alabama and other conservative states have attempted to enact new restrictions on abortion following the appointment of new conservative judges to the US Supreme Court.

They are aiming to push Supreme Court justices to reconsider Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalised abortion across America.

A number of states attempted to ban abortion once a foetal heartbeat is detected, however the Alabama law went further by attempting to ban almost all abortions with no exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

The only exceptions would be when there is a serious health risk to the mother or the foetus has a lethal anomaly that would cause it to die shortly after birth.

The 2019 Alabama Human Life Protection Act was passed by the Republican-led legislature, and looked to make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider.

"As expected, the court has blocked the law and it will not go into effect," said Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.

"Abortion remains legal in Alabama. The state's repeated attempts to push abortion out of reach by enacting unconstitutional laws restricting abortions has already cost taxpayers nearly 2.5 million dollars," he added.

"This ill-advised law will cost taxpayers more money."

In an earlier court filing, a state attorney wrote that a federal judge is "for now" bound by Supreme Court rulings supporting abortion rights, but that Alabama hopes to eventually overturn those "tragically wrong decisions".