Less than 24 hours after the Alabama Senate passed a near-total ban on abortion, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the ban into law Wednesday. The law, officially known as the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, does not technically go into effect for another six months even with Ivey’s signature because of how the bill was written. The law, at least temporarily, means the state is on track to prohibit abortion in nearly all forms, even in cases of rape or incest, and that doctors who perform the procedure will face felony charges with up to 99 years in prison as punishment.
This was a statement, not a piece of legislation. It was engineered as a setup to give the Supreme Court the opportunity to strike down Roe v. Wade. And Ivey issued a statement along with the signing that confirmed as much:
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.
To all Alabamians, I assure you that we will continue to follow the rule of law.
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.”
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.
Now the legal battle over the Alabama law begins in earnest. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Alabama have already said they will sue to stop the law from going into effect.
There will surely be others joining the fight, which will likely begin with a judicial stay temporarily blocking the law until it works its way through the court system, possibly as high as the Supreme Court.