Alabama Passes Nation’s Strongest Pro-Life Law

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by Bruce Walker  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 15, 2019   

Sets the stage for Supreme Court battle to overturn [i]Roe v. Wade[/i]

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Alabama State Legislature passed by wide margins a law banning nearly all abortion procedures in the state. If Gov. Kay Ivey signs it as anticipated, the law takes effect in six months.

The Human Life Protection Act (HB 314) was passed by the Alabama House last week in a 74-3 vote and passed the Senate on May 14 with a 25-6 vote. The bill makes performing any abortion in the state a Class A felony punishable by 10 years to life in prison.

Mothers who undergo the procedure will not be subjected to criminal prosecution. One exception that allows the lawful termination of a pregnancy is if the procedure is necessary to save the mother's life or "avert serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function." 

Pregnancies resulting from incest or rape are not exempted from HB 314.

HB 314, as written and passed, is intended to set up a U.S. Supreme Court battle to overturn Roe v. Wade, the controversial 1973 ruling that effectively legalized abortion in all 50 states by declaring unconstitutional state laws restricting the procedures.

The nearest previous opportunity presented to the Supreme Court for overturning Roe was in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey. However, three justices appointed by Republican presidents — Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter — all defied expectations by upholding Roe.

The bill makes performing any abortion in the state a Class A felony punishable by 10 years to life in prison.

Subsequent Supreme Court nominees have stated they regard both Roe and Casey as "settled law," otherwise known in legal terminology as stare decisis. From this point of view, such cases are to be interpreted as legally sacrosanct.

However, several other Supreme Court decisions have been categorically overturned regardless of respective stare decisis classification; among them Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 case that established the "separate but equal" principle that was subsequently overturned in 1954 by Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Most recently, the current Supreme Court this past week rejected stare decisis arguments in their majority decision in Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, which overturned the 1979 Nevada v. Hall precedent.

In his rendered opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas stated that stare decisis is not "an inexorable command" and "is at its weakest when we interpret the Constitution because our interpretation can be altered only by constitutional amendment."

Legal analysts interpret Thomas' comments as forecasting an imminent Supreme Court showdown on abortion. Writing for the left-of-center The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson noted: "[T]he same logic applied in Hyatt would overturn not only Roe v. Wade but also the court's precedent on same-sex marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges."

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