Alabama governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed into law a bill that prohibits virtually all abortions, setting up what will likely become a protracted legal battle that may be decided by the Supreme Court.
The “Human Life Protection Act,” which is the most restrictive of its kind in the country, makes it a felony for doctors to perform an abortion at any state of pregnancy, including in cases of rape and incest. The law contains a single exception for when an “abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk,” the bill states. Performing an abortion is classified a Class A felony with a maximum 99-year prison sentence, and an attempted abortion is a Class C felony.
Women seeking an abortion in the state will not face criminal charges.
“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act,” Ivey said in a statement. “To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious & that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
The governor also implied that the goal of the bill is to relitigate Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court abortion case that legalized abortion nationwide.
“No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable,” Ivey admitted. “As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions.”
“Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973,” she said. “The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter.”
Pro-life advocates have supported the so-called “heartbeat bills” that have cropped up in several states and have been signed in to law in Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Georgia. The bills attempt to ban abortions from the time a heartbeat can be detected in the fetus, at around six weeks of pregnancy.
The various state bills, more bold in their restrictions than previous abortion legislation, may spark legal challenges that reach the Supreme Court.