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Impact on Alabama’s abortion laws if Roe v. Wade is overturned

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 8:41 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Abortion laws across America may radically change. Politico is reporting that it has a leaked copy of an upcoming Supreme court decision that will essentially overturn Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts verified the leak.

This all goes back to a lawsuit based in Mississippi challenging new abortion restrictions there. The leak suggests five justices, led by Samuel Alito, have sided with Mississippi.

Many are wondering what will happen to abortion laws in Alabama, especially as a statewide near-total abortion ban is in limbo. In 2019, Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill (HB 314) that makes abortion and attempted abortion a felony in Alabama. The only exception is if it was necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant person.

Incest or rape would not be exceptions.

Governor Ivey acknowledged that the law is unenforceable while Roe v. Wade is viable. According to the Governor, the sponsors wrote the bill in a way to provoke the Supreme Court to weaken abortion protections or overturn the ruling.

It’s wrapped up in a lawsuit (Robinson v. Marshall) filed by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU right now.

Bill Sponsor Representative Terri Collins says the law is tied up in the courts right now. It’s been sitting on District Judge Myron Thompson’s desk since 2019.

In 2020, Judge Thompson placed a temporary restraining order against the law.

There is also an amendment in the Alabama state constitution that prohibits pro-choice protections from ever being enacted.

A Huntsville-based legal expert Mark McDaniels says laws like this could hurt the health of many Alabamians.

“Prior to Roe v. Wade, I think there were like a million abortions. After Roe v. Wade there were still a million abortions,” said McDaniels. “The only issue is there were a lot more deaths prior to Roe v. Wade. So, if you have states that limit abortions and those women can’t afford to go to a different place they may go to get an abortion but it will not be by a physician necessarily.”

The Supreme Court justices siding with Mississippi make the argument that Roe v Wade is irrelevant because abortion isn’t mentioned in the constitution. However, McDaniels says it’s more of a matter of protecting Americans’ fourth amendment rights, the right to privacy.

“If a woman does not have a constitutional right to privacy when does that stop? Does it go to her right to contraception?” asked McDaniels. “If she doesn’t have a right to privacy what happens to her body? Then what could the state do? What laws could they pass?”

The final opinion on Mississippi’s case is not expected until late summertime. Judges can change their minds until then.

Numerous protests were held across the country against the overturn of Roe v. Wade, including in Huntsville.

“We are talking about freedom and liberty in a country where those things are supposed to be granted and I want people to understand how serious this really is,” said Candidate for House District 25, Mallory Hagan.

Right now, there are three clinics in Alabama that perform abortions. If the law is overturned, the clinics could shut down.

Alabama Women’s Clinic Defender, Josie Poland says the Huntsville clinic is already seeing several patients from out of state every day. She says this could put women’s lives in danger.

“Women will be forced to give birth or self-induced abortion and many will die. If they have enough money they can go to a safe state but that is not likely for many of these people. The women who have health problems, it could be their life. It could negatively impact them,” said Poland.

Poland says if Roe v Wade is overturned, the Huntsville clinic will remain open for normal OBGYN care.

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