Alabama bill marks the start of all-out war on abortion

Alabama bill marks the start of all-out war on abortion

A pro-choice supporter in front of the Alabama State House, May 14, 2019. (Photo: Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters)

The abortion ban approved Tuesday night by the Alabama Senate is more than just the most restrictive legislation passed by any state in the 46 years since the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide.

It is also the opening of a new front in the abortion wars, and the clearest statement yet that the tsunami of state abortion restrictions introduced this year is less about actually enforcing those particular restrictions than about giving the justices an opportunity to reverse the 1973 ruling.

Rep. Terri Collins, explained that while she is sympathetic to rape and incest survivors, many of whom filled the gallery, “if that amendment was to get on the bill then … it won’t go to the Supreme Court,” adding that there would be time for such amendments after the court returns the right to decide abortion law to the states.’ data-reactid=”25″>In the hours before last night’s 25-6 vote, a proposed amendment that would have allowed abortion in the case of rape or incest was voted down, 21-11, with four Republicans joining the few Democrats in the body. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Terri Collins, explained that while she is sympathetic to rape and incest survivors, many of whom filled the gallery, “if that amendment was to get on the bill then … it won’t go to the Supreme Court,” adding that there would be time for such amendments after the court returns the right to decide abortion law to the states.

In other words, it was a bill crafted not to govern, but to provoke a case that could reach the high court, the latest of a series of state laws with that purpose, the culmination of a strategy that has been employed since shortly after Roe was decided, but which has gained new impetus with a conservative majority on the court.

The result is a multi-tiered conversation — one about abortion rights, one about abortion politics and one about legal strategy.

Alabama state Sen. Rodger Smitherman. (Photo: Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters)

strengthen abortion rights as red states weaken them.’ data-reactid=”40″>In the second, both groups fundraise and create petitions — to unseat legislators who don’t vote their way, to persuade governors to sign or veto legislation, and, in the case of pro-choice coalitions, to urge blue state legislators to strengthen abortion rights as red states weaken them.

And on the third level, both groups try to predict which cases the newly constituted court might accept and how they might rule. It is the newest territory in this evolving landscape, where strategy is still being debated.

Conservative televangelist Pat Robertson said: “I think Alabama has gone too far. It’s an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe v. Wade, but my humble view is this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because this one will lose.”’ data-reactid=”58″>Not all anti-abortion groups agree with the tactic, even if they are in sympathy with the broad aims. Conservative televangelist Pat Robertson said: “I think Alabama has gone too far. It’s an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe v. Wade, but my humble view is this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because this one will lose.”

But those who crafted it predict that their overarching legislations will be more likely to be heard by the court.

voted in January to declare abortion a “fundamental right,” and Vermont is poised to do the same.’ data-reactid=”75″>In fact, there have been additions to the pro-choice playbook in the past two years, as both sides adapt to the new field. There have been successful campaigns to increase abortion protections in more progressive states, such as the New York state Legislature, now controlled in both houses by Democrats, which voted in January to declare abortion a “fundamental right,” and Vermont is poised to do the same.

And there are some more creative pushbacks as well. In Alabama, Democratic Sen. Vivian Figures attempted to add amendments that would, among other things, make vasectomies a felony and require lawmakers who vote for the ban to personally pay the legal fees to defend it in court.

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