Alabama had three abortion clinics prior to this week’s passage
of a new law that essentially banned the practice. Now the state has… three abortion
clinics. The law doesn’t go into effect for six months, but the Alabama abortionists
say that even then they have no plans to close their doors.
“We’ve been through this fight over and over again,” Dalton
Johnson, owner of Alabama’s Women’s Center in Huntsville told AL.com.
“Our main goal is to keep the women apprised that we will be challenging it in
At Johnson’s abortion clinic, two doctors perform about
2,000 abortions annually. Alabama’s Women’s Center is the only abortion clinic
in the state that performs abortions up to the state’s previous limit of 20 weeks.
As a result, the center sees women from across Alabama as well as surrounding
states. After the law takes effect, performing abortions illegally will be a
Class A felony punishable by between 10 and 99 years in prison.
“We don’t see any interruption in any kind of service
whatsoever,” agreed an employee of Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery.
The abortion providers are gambling that the courts will
issue an injunction to prevent the law from taking effect on schedule. An
employee at the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa said, “If the law
goes into effect . . . we’re not criminals; we would not be able to stay open,
but until it’s all resolved, we will be here.”
The ACLU has already announced plans to file a lawsuit to prevent
the law from going into force. Rebecca Seung-Bickley told AL.com,
“This will never go into effect, as long as ACLU is in litigation.”
Indeed, the purpose of the Alabama law seems to be to troll
for legal challenges in order to send a test case to the Supreme Court. After
the appointment of two new justices by President Trump, pro-life legislators
believe that the time may be right to launch a challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Rep. Terri Collins, the Republican member of Alabama’s House
of Representatives who sponsored the bill, told the Washington
Post, “This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives
of the unborn because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and
protection. I have prayed my way through this bill. This is the way we get
where we want to get eventually.”
Incidentally, Collins, the author of the bill, is a woman.
Whether the Court reviews the Alabama abortion ban or not, it
is likely that an abortion case will be reviewed over the next few years. Several
states have recently enacted heartbeat bills that prohibit abortions after
a fetal heartbeat has been detected. Other states are considering similar
legislation. All are likely to be challenged by pro-abortion activist groups.
The best-case scenario for the pro-life movement would be
for the Court to take at least one of the pending abortion cases and strike
down Roe in its entirety. This would
send the abortion battle back to the states. Some states, such as New York,
would enact very liberal abortion policies while others, such as Alabama, would
ban the practice.
A more likely outcome is that Chief Justice Roberts and
Justice Kavanaugh take a more incremental approach. The narrow constitutionalist
majority will likely agree that Roe was
a bad decision but will be reluctant to toss it out abruptly after almost 50
years. We can expect the Court to allow states more latitude in restricting and
regulating abortion but still stop short of allowing a full ban.
In either case, the abortion battle is far from over. In one
case, statehouses will become the new battlefield while, in the other, the focus
will continue to be on the Supreme Court. The new abortion laws are merely one
more skirmish in a long war.