THE INTENT BEHIND ALABAMA'S NEW ABORTION BILL
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has recently signed an anti-abortion proposal, House Bill 314 (HB 314), criminalizing people in her state who provide surgical abortions with a punishment of up to 99 years in prison.
HB 314 neglected to define who the provider is in the case of self-induced abortions as well as medical ones. Pro-choice organizations, activists and supporters are readying the fight against the recent Alabama bill. This includes Seattle's own chapter of National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League joining up to protest the state’s decision.
HB 314 offers no exceptions towards those who are victims of incest or rape. Furthermore, those who perform the procedure are also subject to the same punishment.
The conversation around the proposed bill has been avoided by most conservative politicians. For example, President Donald Trump has cautiously voiced his disapproval, stating in a series of tweets that while he is pro-life, the legislation went too far.
However, the interesting part of this bill isn’t the draconian penalty but the intention behind it. According to Eric Johnston, the unelected conservative activist, attorney and mastermind behind the legislation who also is the president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, the bill was never intended to go into effect at all. In fact, Johnston knew that the bill itself was unconstitutional and chose to press on, regardless of the fact that Alabama would get sued.
Not two days after the law was passed, it was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union; this means that its fate will be decided in the appeals court, where — according to Johnston — he expects it to be defeated. This reveals the true purpose of the legislation: bringing it before the Supreme Court.
Johnston and the other architects behind HB 314 never really expected for the bill to be passed into law. The plan all along was for it to eventually find its way before the Supreme Court to be used as the means to overturn Roe v. Wade itself.
With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as the newest Supreme Court justice, the entire voting makeup of the tribunal changed. Before, there was an equal number of conservative and liberal justices with one neutral justice. But with the retirement of Anthony Kennedy and the confirmation of Kavanaugh, there is now five conservative and four liberal justices on the court.
With its conservative leaning, there is a real chance that Roe v. Wade could be reversed.
If the Supreme Court does not take the case or rules against the bill, then pro-life organizations will shrug it off and try another day. Considering the makeup of the court, they’ll have plenty of chances moving forward.
However, if it does pass and abortion is criminalized in Alabama, it may set the precedent for other states to follow.