Planned Parenthood and ACLU sue over Alabama's 'extreme abortion ban'

Alabama has pushed abortion care further "out of reach for years with medically unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions" and this ban shows how far they will go, an ACLU lawyer said.
Image: FILE PHOTO: March for Reproductive Freedom in Montgomery
Marchers gather at the Alabama State Capitol to protest the state's new abortion law on May 19, 2019.Michael Spooneybarger / Reuters

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By Minyvonne Burke

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union announced Friday that they have filed a federal lawsuit over Alabama's near-total abortion ban, which makes nearly all instances of performing an abortion a felony.

“The Alabama legislature has been pushing abortion care further and further out of reach for years with medically unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions, and this extreme abortion ban shows us just how far they’ll go to push their anti-abortion agenda,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project attorney, in a press release.

The suit follows Gov. Kay Ivey's signing of the bill that makes it a felony for a doctor to perform or attempt an abortion during any stage of pregnancy unless the mother’s health is at risk.

The law, which does not make exceptions for rape and incest, was approved by the state’s Senate last week after a combative floor debate. The bill is the most stringent abortion law in the nation and is aimed at challenging the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade that protects the right to abortion.

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Following last week's Senate decision, hundreds of demonstrators marched to the Alabama Capitol in protest.

“The ACLU will not stand by while politicians emboldened by President Trump’s anti-abortion agenda exploit out health and our lives for political gain,” she said in Friday’s press release.

Randall Marshall, the executive director of ACLU’s Alabama chapter, said the lawsuit is designed to ensure the abortion bill “never takes effect.”

The ACLU, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the ACLU of Alabama filed the suit together in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Alabama.

Kolbi-Molinas called the law “blatantly unconstitutional,” and the suit states that by criminalizing abortions the Alabama statute “directly conflicts” with Roe v. Wade.

“Enforcement of the Ban will thereby inflict immediate and irreparable harm on Plaintiff’s patients by violating their constitutional rights, threatening their health and well-being, and forcing them to continue their pregnancies to term against their will,” the lawsuit states.

Alabama House Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill, told NBC News after it was approved by the Senate that legislators wanted to address the language in Roe v. Wade and revisit the question of whether an unborn baby is considered a person.

“Heartbeat abortion” bans have also been signed into law in Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio.

The ACLU said Friday it has already obtained an injunction blocking the Kentucky ban, and along with Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the ban in Ohio.