Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the state’s Human Life Protection Act on May 15, enacting one of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the nation. The key provision of this statute renders it criminal for “for any person to intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion,” subject only to an exception where the abortion “is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” The drafters of the legislation refused to add any amendment that would legalize abortions in the cases of rape and incest. The legislation specifically exempts women who have abortions from any form of civil or criminal liability, but it imposes sentences up to life imprisonment for any physician within the state who performs an illegal abortion.
The law is on a direct collision course with Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 established a constitutional right to abortion, even though at the time of its passage abortions were commonly, but not universally, subject to criminal sanctions either by statute or at common law. Governor Ivey makes no bones about seeking a show-down. The Alabama laws punishing abortion are still on the books. She wants the Supreme Court to “revisit”—i.e. overrule—Roe and thinks that the latest Alabama law is the best way to force its hand. Predictably, the statute’s passage has generated intense dispute over abortions that center on the merits of the legislation and the likelihood that the Supreme Court will modify or strike down Roe.More