A federal judge has blocked Alabama’s draconian abortion ban, less than a month before it’s set to take effect – spelling the start of a legal battle that may go all the way to the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade.
A federal judge has temporarily blocked the controversial Heartbeat Bill designed to criminalise abortion in nearly all circumstances in the state of Alabama.
A panel of 25 white male Republicans voted to pass the draconian measure into law in May but it’s since been challenged in the courts by pro-choice groups.
US District Judge Myron Thompson yesterday granted a preliminary injunction to halt the law, set to take effect in Alabama in November.
In a 17-page opinion, Judge Thompson said the bill, which would ban abortion even in cases of incest and rape, “diminishes the capacity of women to act in society, and to make reproductive decisions”.
The injunction will stay in place until the federal court makes a judgement in the case of campaigners suing Alabama’s lawmakers.
The move was hailed as a victory by Planned Parenthood, who, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Alabama abortion providers.
“We said it from the start: this ban is blatantly unconstitutional and we will fight it every step of the way” Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, told CBS News.
Abortion provider Dr Yashica Robinson, another plaintiff in the case, told the BBC: “The abortion care we provide is essential healthcare, and these ruthless attacks from anti-abortion politicians have no place in Alabama.”
However, Alabama’s attorney general Steve Marshall said in a statement that the judge’s decision was expected. He and other state lawmakers want to advance their case to the US Supreme Court, in the hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that makes abortion legal across America.
Alabama’s proposed bill is the most restrictive of its kind in America.
It makes abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy, with doctors facing up to 99 years in jail for performing terminations. The only exceptions are if there is a serious risk to the mother’s health, or if the foetus has a fatal complication.
A number of other US states, including Missouri and Georgia, have also attempted to restrict access to abortion in the past year, in an alarming drive to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights.
However, none of the proposed legislature has taken effect yet, and it’s uncertain how it can while Roe v. Wade still stands. As in the case of Alabama Republicans, the ultimate aim of most lawmakers is to provoke a Supreme Court battle that would reverse Roe v. Wade.
Hollywood producers have pulled their business from Georgia, a go-to location for filming, in protest at its attempt to curtail abortion access.