Alabama Abortion Ban Blocked by Carter-Appointed Federal Judge

October 29, 2019 Updated: October 29, 2019

The abortion ban in Alabama has been blocked for now by District Judge Myron Thompson, a President Jimmy Carter appointee.

Thompson issued an injunction on Oct. 29, preventing the state from enforcing the ban.

“The court is persuaded that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in showing that the Act violates an individual’s constitutional right to obtain a pre-viability abortion, and thus that it violates her constitutional rights,” Thompson said in his order.

The preliminary injunction will remain in effect until the court fully resolves the case.

The American Civil Liberties Union celebrated the ruling, writing in a statement: “With this federal court ruling, it’s official: None of the state abortion bans passed earlier this year are in effect. Abortion remains legal in all 50 states.”

The ruling was made after Planned Parenthood and other parties filed a lawsuit in May alleging the abortion law violated the U.S. Constitution, including the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, Roe v. Wade, that said abortion is a constitutional right.

“By criminalizing the performance of an abortion (or attempted performance of an abortion) at all points in pregnancy, H.B. 314 directly conflicts with Roe and more than four decades of Supreme Court precedent affirming its central holding,” the parties wrote (pdf).

Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill being challenged by the lawsuit on May 14, one day after the state Senate passed the legislation.

The bill outlawed all abortions except in cases when the pregnancy puts the prospective mother’s life at risk.

While it doesn’t penalize a woman for getting an abortion, it makes it a felony to perform abortions, imposing penalties of 10 to 99 years in prison.

kay ivey apologizes for blackface
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, after both houses of the legislature passed the bill, in Montgomery, Ala., in a file photograph. (Office of the Governor State of Alabama/Handout via Reuters)

The Alabama law took aim at the core issue of whether an unborn child can be considered a person, as discussed in Roe v. Wade.

In the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision, the justices acknowledged that “if this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’s right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [Fourteenth] Amendment.”

The Alabama law (pdf) defines a “person” as “a human being, specifically including an unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability.”

State Rep. Terri Collins said the bill was designed to challenge Roe v. Wade in the hopes the Supreme Court would hear it.

“I’ve answered many emails from people who have poured out their hearts with real stories,” Collins previously told AL.com. “My goal with this bill is not to hurt them in any way. My goal with this bill, and I think all of our goals, is to have Roe v. Wade turned over, and that decision be sent back to the states so that we can come up with our laws that address and include amendments and things that address those issues.”

Petr Savb contributed to this report.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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