The Alabama Senate on Tuesday passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the country — a near-total ban on all abortions.
According to Eric Johnston, president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, who helped craft the legislation, the bill was specifically designed to go to the Supreme Court and challenge Roe v. Wade.
Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey now has six days to sign the legislation into law, which would then become enforceable six months later and would carry stiff penalties for those caught violating it. For example, doctors could face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion in the state.
So what are the chances the law will be implemented anytime soon? Next to none.
Facts first: Given the amount of legal challenges it’s likely to face, along with past rulings on other anti-abortion legislation, the law will probably be tied up in court for years, delaying enforcement. The Supreme Court has discretion over what cases it hears, and there is no guarantee the justices would take up the Alabama ban if it is struck down in lower courts.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood have already announced plans to file lawsuits against the Alabama bill, arguing it’s unconstitutional. These organizations, as they have in the past, will likely also ask federal district courts for a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order to prevent the law from going into effect, while arguments over the constitutionality of the law work their way through the courts.
That means a federal judge would decide whether to temporarily block the law or allow it to take effect. US district judges routinely block anti-abortion laws from taking effect while litigation is underway.