The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood Federation of America on Friday filed a federal lawsuit against Alabama’s newly signed into law HB 314, which is exactly what the Republicans in the state legislature wanted all along.
Alabama’s new law, which was always expected to be blocked by a federal court before it would take effect in November, would ban abortions except when the life of the mother is in danger. HB 314 would criminalize doctors, not women, by making it a Class A felony to perform an abortion and a Class C felony to attempt an abortion.
Proponents of the legislation have been clear in their intentions since the bill was still being written. This includes State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur), the bill’s sponsor.
“We not only expected a challenge to Alabama’s pro-life law from ultra-liberal groups like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, we actually invited it,” Collins explained in a statement on Friday. “Our intent from the day this bill was drafted was to use it as a vehicle to challenge the constitutional abomination known as Roe v. Wade.”
The bill is entitled the “Human Life Protection Act,” and is now the nation’s strongest law shielding unborn babies from being aborted. Proponents of the legislation have explained it is intended to be a “vehicle” to get the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade on the basis of personhood, actually using the exact language from that infamous court decision in the bill.
Collins and State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), who carried the bill in the Senate, have outlined that the question at hand is whether the baby in the womb, or “in utero” legally speaking, is a person and should have rights as such.
Collins on Friday welcomed the legal battle, concluding, “This lawsuit is simply the first battle in what we hope will ultimately be a victorious effort to overturn Roe and protect unborn babies from harm. Alabama’s state motto is ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights,’ and I am deeply proud that this Legislature, this governor, and this state are leading the charge to defend the rights of the unborn.”
The lawsuit by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU was filed on behalf of “Alabama abortion providers,” according to the special interest groups’ joint press release.
In a statement, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project said politicians across the country have been “emboldened by President Trump’s anti-abortion agenda.”
One of the plaintiff’s in the new lawsuit, Dr. Yashica Robinson (the owner of Alabama Women’s Center), claimed, “Our patients at Alabama Women’s Center already have to overcome so much just to get to our doors, and this law further shames them, punishes providers like myself, and stigmatizes essential health care.”
In a statement of her own, Staci Fox, president and CEO at Planned Parenthood Southeast, asserted, “We are defending the work of the brave folks who came before us. And we are fighting to take this country forward, not backwards.”
Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, alleged, “[T]he public is on our side.”
In November, Yellowhammer State voters passed Amendment Two 60%-40%, officially declaring Alabama as a pro-life state.
In addition to Dr. Robinson, plaintiffs represented in the case are Alabama Women’s Center, Reproductive Health Services, West Alabama Women’s Center and Planned Parenthood Southeast.
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court of the Middle District of Alabama.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall previously said his office would be prepared to defend the new law against expected legal challenges.
The lawsuit comes immediately following the revelation that Planned Parenthood was involved in at least one government’s boycott of the state of Alabama stemming from the abortion ban, even though the organization has insisted and continues to maintain the ban will never take effect.
The ACLU of Alabama this week was on the losing side of another legislative battle, when the organization opposed a bill passed by the House to protect First Amendment free speech on public college and university campuses in the Yellowhammer State.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn