Alabama governor signs near total abortion ban
May 16, 2019
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a controversial bill Wednesday that bans nearly all abortions in the state, including in cases of incest and rape.
The Alabama Human Life Protection Act is one the most restrictive anti-abortion laws since Roe v. Wadelegalized the procedure nationwide in 1973. The act bans performing abortions in the state and imposes criminal penalties of up to 99 years in prison on doctors who perform an abortion. In addition, the Act goes further than most other recent abortion bans, with no exceptions to the ban except when the mother’s life is threatened by the pregnancy, including banning abortions when the fetus is conceived from rape or incest. These “carve out” exceptions to abortion laws are widely popular even among people who are otherwise anti-abortion, with a 2018 Gallup poll showing 77% of Americans favor allowing abortions in cases of rape or incest. The bill passed through Alabama’s Republican dominated House of Representatives and Senate with overwhelming majorities.
In a statement issued following her signing of the bill, Ivey described the act as “unenforceable” and directly contrary to the precedent set by Roe v. Wade. Echoing the sponsors of the bill, she stated that the purpose in passing such a restrictive law was to force the federal courts to weigh in on the legality of abortion and “for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter” in the hope that they will overturn Roe.
The American Civil Liberties Union has already committed to bringing a lawsuit to block the law’s implementation.
Since the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court last year, numerous states have raced to implement restrictive abortion laws with the hope that the new conservative majority on the court will overturn Roe. Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky have all recently passed “fetal heartbeat” bills that bans abortions later than six weeks into the pregnancy, while Texas and North Carolina have implemented “born alive” bills.
Kansas Supreme Court rules state Bill of Rights protects personal autonomy, right to abortion
April 26, 2019
The Supreme Court of Kansas ruled on Friday that the state’s Bill of Rights protects personal autonomy, including the right to abortion.
In a 6-1 decision, the court upheld a temporary injunction of Senate Bill 95, which prohibits the evacuation and dilation of a fetus during the second trimester, and remanded the case to the trial court for a full resolution of the issues on the merits. The court applied a strict scrutiny standard when analyzing the legislation and determined that preventing physicians from performing the safest second-trimester abortion procedure was not narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest. The court further reasoned “that section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights protects all Kansans’ natural right of personal autonomy, which includes the right to control one’s own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination.”
Senate Bill 95 was passed in 2015, but it never went into force because of legal challenges. While Kansas was the first state to restrict abortion procedures at this early stage when many women do not know they are pregnant, it was followed by more than 10 other states in the American South and Midwest that passed similar bans on abortion procedures during the second trimester. Many of those measures are also being challenged.
Alabama House approves bill criminalizing abortion
May 2, 2019
The Alabama House approved House Bill 314 Tuesday making it a criminal felony for a doctor to perform an abortion except where the life of the mother is in jeopardy.
If enacted, the bill will make the performance of an abortion by a doctor in violation of this act a Class A felony with a maximum prison sentence of 99 years. Attempted Abortion will become a Class C felony with up to 10 years in prison. The bill only allows for abortion in the event of a medical emergency that causes serious health risk to the mother. The bill specifically does not define mental illness as a serious health risk unless two doctors have credibly assessed the mother and believe abortion is necessary to prevent the mother from harming herself or her unborn child.
The bill was passed on Tuesday in a vote of 74-3 with all but two Republican members voting while almost all of Democratic members refused to vote, instead leaving the House in protest. The bill now heads to the Alabama Senate and if passed there will be presented to governor. Republicans hope this bill will provide an opportunity for the court to revisit Roe v. Wade while Democrats believe the bill will likely be declared unconstitutional under that same decision.
Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down state law restricting drug-induced abortion
May 1, 2019
Oklahoma’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a state law that restricts access to drug-induced abortions unconstitutional.
The decision overturns a 2014 state law that banned “off-label” use of mifepristone, a medication used for abortions, also referred to as RU-486, which made Oklahoma the only state to have such a ban. The statute required physicians to comply with the Food and Drug Administration’s earlier label protocol for medically terminated pregnancies rather than an updated protocol introduced in 2016.
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit over the law in September 2014, and a state court blocked it in November 2017. The state then appealed the decision to the high court, which upheld the lower court’s decision Tuesday after previously allowing it to stay in place in 2016 to allow the lower-court litigation to proceed.
The state Supreme Court ruled 7-1 that the requirement “places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s choice and imposes an undue burden on the woman’s rights.” Autumn Katz, Senior Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, characterized the decision as a “critical victory for Oklahoma women and their doctors.” Katz praised the court for placing “science over politics.”
The advocacy group notes that “Oklahoma is already one of the most restrictive states in the country in terms of abortion access.” Since 2011, Oklahoma has passed more than 20 bills restricting access to abortion and other reproductive health care. Recently, Oklahoma enacted SB 614, a bill that requires abortion clinics to post signage that claims it may be possible to “reverse” a medication abortion, and the legislature is currently considering SB 195, a constitutional amendment stating that the Oklahoma constitution does not protect the right to abortion.
South Korea Constitutional Court rules abortion law unconstitutional
April 11, 2019
The South Korean Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the law making abortion a crime is unconstitutional.
For now, the law still stands. But, if it is not amended by 2020, it “will become null and void.” The court called the current law “an unconstitutional restriction that violates a pregnant woman’s right to choose.” Currently, the law only allows abortion in cases of rape, incest or where the pregnancy is dangerous for the woman’s health.
The decision calls for lawmakers to amend the law in order to make the laws less restrictive.
21 states urge Supreme Court to hear Alabama abortion case
February 05, 2019
The Attorneys General from 20 states and the Governor of Kentucky filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court Monday asking the court to hear an Alabama abortion case.
The Alabama law outlaws the use of dilation and evacuation abortions. The method is most often used during weeks 15 to 18 of a pregnancy. Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia have enacted similar laws.
The brief argues that Alabama has the right to regulate the method of abortion because the state “has an interest in protecting and fostering respect for human life, including unborn life,” and the state has “the power to regulate the medical profession, including on matters of medical judgment and ethics connected to abortion.”
The lower court overturned the law, calling three methods of fetal demise before the abortion as being “infeasible.” The brief argues that “it has no constitutional obligation to guarantee that the remaining alternative abortion methods are medically equivalent. Rather, the state retains the authority to balance the medical tradeoffs against its interest in respect for unborn life.”
The Attorney Generals included in the amicus brief represent Louisiana, Georgia, Arizona, Idaho, Arkansas, Indiana, Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina, Missouri, South Dakota, Montana, Texas, Nebraska, Utah, North Dakota, West Virginia and Ohio.
Several abortion laws have faced legal challenges in the US in recent months. Also on Monday, Indiana’s Attorney General filed a petition to the US Supreme Court requesting the Court to hear a case involving an Indiana law that requires an ultrasound be performed at least 18 hours before receiving an abortion. In January, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed an emergency appeal to the US Supreme Court to hear a case regarding an Louisiana law that requires abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure.
Irelandlower house approves bill allowing elective abortion
December 06, 2018
Ireland’s lower house of parliament, the Dáil Éireann, on Wednesday approved a bill legalizing abortion services.
The bill, titled the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy, allows the elective termination of pregnancies before 12 weeks. Patients who elect for abortion services within their first 12 weeks of pregnancy, must receive two examinations from separate physicians certifying the procedure.
The bill also allows for abortions in medical emergencies or when medically necessary. This bill repeals the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 that only permitted termination if there was serious risk to the life or health of the mother.
The passage of the bill is another step in Ireland’s health reform on abortion. Despite passing a constitutional amendment repealing the country’s ban on abortion in September, previous legislation that governed abortion remained applicable. This bill repeals such preceding legislation and will serve as the primary act regulating abortion.
The Dáil passed the bill 90-15, with minor changes. One change includes review of the legislation after three years rather than the originally proposed five years.
The bill now moves to the Seanad Éireann, Ireland’s upper legislative house, where it is scheduled to be debated Thursday.