And, In Alabama…

The Supreme Court’s decision Friday to strike down Roe v. Wade brought a halt to abortion services in Alabama, under a still-extant 1951 abortion ban and a far more stringent 2019 law that will likely take effect sooner rather than later. 

The court overturned the 1973 decision striking down restrictions on abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed the case. In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the Constitution “makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

In a dissent, Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer wrote that the court had decided “that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

The decision does not make abortion illegal nationwide, but allows states to decide whether or not to allow the procedure. Alabama’s law books are filled with abortion restrictions, some of which were designed specifically to create an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement Friday that “any abortionist or abortion clinic operating in the State of Alabama in violation of Alabama law should immediately cease and desist operations.”

“…any abortionist…” ❗️❗️

Robin Marty, operations director for the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, said Friday that abortion services at the clinic had stopped. The clinic had begun referring patients out-of-state, providing gas cards to do so. The clinic will remain open, and Marty said they would help patients find legal abortions.

 Marty also expressed concerns over an opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that said the court should reconsider precedents in 1965’s Griswold v. Connecticut, striking down birth control restrictions; 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas, striking down anti-sodomy laws, and 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges, striking down restrictions on same-sex marriage.

“People capable of becoming pregnant in Alabama need to understand that is the sole thing they are considered good for,” she said. “In this country, they are no longer allowed to have sex with any one … without the possibility of becoming pregnant, giving birth, putting their lives in danger.”

More:What happens to abortion access in Alabama if Roe v. Wade is overturned?

Abortion services in Alabama

Alabama has three clinics that provided abortions as of Wednesday: West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa; Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery, and Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville. Planned Parenthood had provided abortion services at its clinics in Birmingham and Mobile, but had suspended them.

What the law says

A pre-Roe abortion ban, last amended in 1951, remains on the books. The law bans abortions in all cases except to preserve the life of the mother. Those convicted under the statute would face a maximum fine of $1,000 and a maximum jail time of 12 months.

Alabama voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment declaring that there was no right to an abortion in the state constitution. The following year, the Legislature approved a law banning abortion in all cases except medical emergencies; ectopic pregnancies; a fetus having a condition that would make it stillborn or cause it to die after birth, or where a psychiatrist certifies that a woman with a “serious mental illness” would kill herself or the child if she gave birth. 

The law does not provide exceptions for victims of rape or incest.  

A doctor convicted of performing an abortion under the law could face up to 99 years in prison. Those convicted of attempting to perform an abortion could face up to 10 years in prison. 

A federal judge temporarily blocked the law in 2019, but further legal action was stayed while Dobbs moved through the courts. Othni Lathram, the director of the Alabama Law Institute, said last month that he expected the 2019 law to go into effect after Roe was struck down, but he was not clear on the timing. 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a Friday statement that the decision was “a giant step forward for our country” and said she would work to bring the 2019 ban into effect.

“Every life is precious and a sacred gift from God,” the statement said. “We will not relent in our efforts. Ensuring this 2019 law can be enforced is the next and very critical step to protecting our babies.”

Alabama Democratic Party chair Chris England said in a statement that Republican legislators and judges appointed by the party “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,” the statement said. “They refuse to expand Medicaid, providing free lifesaving healthcare access to Alabama families — or do anything else that actually sanctifies life for Alabamians.”

Poor, nonwhite women most likely to get abortions

The end of Roe will hit the state’s most vulnerable women the hardest. Nonwhite women accounted for 68% of all abortions in the state in 2019, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. A Guttmacher Institute study from 2017 found that women earning below the federal poverty level — currently $13,590 for individuals and $23,030 for a household of three — made up 49% of all abortion patients in 2014.

JaTune Bosby, the executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, said the ruling was “a devastating decision that will have life-threatening impacts.”  

“The battle for safe, legal, and evidence-based reproductive healthcare now shifts from the courts back to the statehouse,” the statement said. “It is incumbent upon the people of Alabama to let their lawmakers know that the ability for women and all pregnant people to choose when, where, and how to start a family is theirs alone.”



sat june 25 2022 mgy REmbr… G is, as G can only BE. GOOD

If I didn’t define myself, I’d be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. audre lorde