Alabama governor signs near-total abortion ban into law

Updated: May. 15, 2019 at 6:08 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law Wednesday afternoon a bill that bans nearly all abortions.

The Alabama legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, a measure that makes performing abortion a felony at any stage of pregnancy with almost no exceptions.

Ivey said Wednesday morning she would review the bill thoroughly before signing it.

“I’ll certainly review the bill when it comes across my desk. We’ll review it thoroughly - the legal department, etc. And then I’ll make a final decision,” she said.

By late afternoon, Ivey had signed the bill, issuing a statement that read, in part: “Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God."

The governor’s office declined requests for a Wednesday evening on-camera interview.

Last week, the Senate chamber fell into chaos when an amendment to add exceptions in the case of rape or incest was removed in a hasty voice vote. When asked if she supported the exceptions, Ivey said “all human life is precious.”

The bill makes performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony unless the mother’s health is in danger.

Some conservatives are seeking to ignite legal fights in the hopes of getting the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the landmark 1973 decision that made the procedure legal.

Ivey addressed the legality of the legislation in her signing statement saying "In all meaningful respects, this bill closely resembles an abortion ban that has been a part of Alabama law for well over 100 years. As today’s bill itself recognizes, that longstanding abortion law has been rendered “unenforceable as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.”

But she added, "No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur. "

Despite being signed into law, the abortion legislation doesn’t go into effect for six months. Lawsuits to block it from ever becoming active have already been promised.

Among the first to slam the abortion legislation was the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU. It’s an organization familiar with fighting and winning cases against the state when it comes to restrictions on abortion access.

As the Senate was nearing approval of the bill Tuesday night, ACLU Alabama was tweeting a photo of a check for $1.7 million the state was forced to pay it after losing a 2013 abortion law court fight.

The ACLU says it will sue again to stop the latest law from going into effect.

Randall Marshall, Executive Director of ACLU of Alabama released this statement Wednesday evening: “By signing this bill, the governor and her colleagues in the state legislature have decided to waste millions in Alabama taxpayer dollars in order to defend a bill that is simply a political effort to overturn 46 years of precedent that has followed the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. We will not allow that to happen, and we will see them in court. Despite the governor signing this bill, clinics will remain open, and abortion is still a safe, legal medical procedure at all clinics in Alabama."

Asked about legal fees from a fight, Ivey said “You certainly cannot deter your efforts to protect the unborn because of costs, even if it means going to the United States Supreme Court.”

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