Alabama has passed a restrictive new law that effectively bans abortion in the state. It is one of a number of anti-abortion laws that Republican-controlled legislatures have passed, despite the fact such bans are almost certainly unconstitutional.
The Alabama law imposes a prison sentence of 99 years for anyone who performs an abortion and permits the procedure only if there is a threat to the life of the pregnant person. There are not exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
The ban will almost certainly be struck down in the courts. The Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade established a right to abortion and Republican attempts to roll back abortion access have met with limited success. Laws to restrict abortion have often been struck down as undue burdens.
However, the Alabama law seems squarely aimed at the US Supreme Court and one justice in particular: Brett Kavanaugh. Republicans and Pro-Life Christians fought hard to seat Kavanaugh in the belief that he will vote to overturn Roe when the time comes.
During Kavanaugh’s controversial confirmation hearings, during which he was accused of sexual assault, he said that he considered Roe settled law. However, there are serious doubts about his commitment to abortion rights. The Supreme Court now has a solid conservative majority and it is only a matter of time before a test case is brought before the court.
The Pro-Life movement’s long-term goal has been to overturn Roe, a move which would open the door to states banning and criminalizing abortion. It remains to be seen whether Kavanaugh will fulfil the hopes of conservatives, but Alabama’s law could be the first step.