Less than a day after the Alabama state legislature passed a bill to ban almost all abortions in the state, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed it into law.
The bill, which won’t go into effect for six months, if ever, outlaws all abortions, unless they pose a “serious health risk” to the mother. The bill makes no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest, and doctors who perform the procedure could be imprisoned for up to 99 years.
It’s the strictest anti-abortion law in the country and since abortion was legalized in the United States more than four decades ago, according to Planned Parenthood.
“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature,” 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 and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
For now, abortion remains legal in Alabama. Still, confused and worried patients flooded abortion providers and advocates Wednesday with calls, wondering if they could still undergo the procedure. Abortion rights organizations even pooled their resources to charter a plane that trailed a banner reading “Abortion is OK!” over the state capital.
In her statement, Ivey acknowledged that the bill is likely unenforceable thanks to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. But that’s the point: The bill’s sponsors want to trigger a lawsuit that would give the Court’s conservative majority an opportunity to overturn that ruling.
Planned Parenthood has already promised to sue over the legislation. On a call with reporters Wednesday, before Ivey signed the bill, Planned Parenthood Southeast president and CEO Staci Fox promised the legislators who voted for the bill that they “will forever live in infamy for this vote.”
“Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates will make sure that every woman knows who to hold accountable,” Fox went on.
“We are in the fight of our lives, for our patients’ lives, and we are ready to fight with everything we have,” added Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Leana Wen.
Cover image: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey discusses a bill that would virtually outlaw abortion in the state while visiting a car factory at Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Blake Paterson)