On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the country. The bill not only bans abortion at nearly every stage of pregnancy, it also criminalizes the procedure for doctors who perform abortions. Although women who receive an abortion will not be prosecuted, the new law targets doctors who could face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. The bill includes protections when a mother’s life is endangered, but it does not include exceptions for rape or incest.
While the courts have continued to reaffirm a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion since the decision in Roe v. Wade, the Alabama law is most recent attempt to challenge the 1973 precedent. Since the beginning of 2019, nearly 300 restrictive abortion laws have been introduced in state legislatures across the country. Earlier this month, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed into law a fetal heartbeat bill that prohibits abortion after a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat. Georgia joined Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio whose fetal heartbeat laws went into effect earlier this year. Reproductive rights advocates and doctors argue that these laws effectively ban abortions before most women even know they are pregnant. Although the law will not go into effect until 2020, opponents and supporters of Georgia’s law expect the ban to face immediate legal challenges.
Despite such restrictive measures, state legislatures across the country have been introducing and enacting protective measures to guarantee the right to access an abortion. In Vermont legislators are moving to amend their state constitution to guarantee individuals’ right to reproductive autonomy.