As Republicans lawmakers in Alabama shared fist bumps and cheers after passing a measure that would effectively ban abortions in the state, Democrats and reproductive rights activists around the country are expressing outrage over the legislation, which many fear could trigger a Supreme Court challenge to Roe v. Wade.
The measure, which is expected to be signed by Alabama’s pro-life Republican governor, would be the most restrictive abortion ban in the country. It would also make it a felony punishable of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions. In a particularly controversial move, Republicans rejected the inclusion of exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Democratic White House hopefuls were nearly unanimous in condemning the bill and warned that the bill was designed to ignite a renewed fight to roll back abortion rights on the national level.
The Alabama vote—which comes at a time when other states such as Georgia and Kentucky are seeking limit abortion access with so-called “heartbeat bills”—follows Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s own warning earlier this week that conservative members of the court were increasingly eager to overturn established legal precedents. In doing so, Breyer cited Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 ruling that essentially upheld Roe—a reference widely interpreted as an indication that he believes abortion rights are in danger.
This ban is dangerous and exceptionally cruel—and the bill’s authors want to use it to overturn Roe v. Wade. I've lived in that America and let me tell you: We are not going back—not now, not ever. We will fight this. And we will win. https://t.co/WNlr7Ys73q
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) May 15, 2019
HB 314 is not only unconstitutional – it's a radical attack on women across Alabama and America. We won't back down when it comes to fully protecting Roe v. Wade, fighting dangerous efforts to roll back reproductive health care and defending a woman’s right to access an abortion.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) May 15, 2019
This bill in Alabama is effectively a ban on abortion. This is wrong. This is unconstitutional. https://t.co/dsRWqAY4PW
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— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) May 15, 2019
Appearing on CNN Wednesday morning, Alabama Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D) slammed the bill for making the women of Alabama “the model of the new Roe v. Wade.” He continued, “I think that this is just a horrible bill, and hopefully, if it gets to that level to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will not select this as a test case.”
Reproductive rights groups and other prominent activists also voiced their anger. Almost immediately after the bill’s passage on Tuesday, the ACLU announced that it would mount a legal challenge to stop it from becoming law.
Don’t move forward after reading this like everything is normal. Don’t shake your head at Alabama and then keep going about your day. Realize that this is a warning. It’s Alabama and abortion today. It’s you and your rights tomorrow. Your silence will not save you. So speak up. https://t.co/kIz78uAU1T
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 15, 2019
BREAKING: Alabama's legislature just passed a law that criminalizes doctors and makes abortion illegal.
Abortion is NOT a crime — it's a constitutional right.
We will sue to stop this law from ever taking effect.
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 15, 2019
The bill that was passed in Alabama is an all-out abortion ban. But make no mistake: Women across the country see what is happening, and they are going to be the deciding voters in the 2020 election.
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) May 15, 2019