The state of Alabama recently passed a law that would prohibit abortions in most cases, which has led pro-abortion activists and organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, to denounce the law as unconstitutional. A law school dean at the University of California-Berkeley, Erwin Chemerinsky, said that “the Alabama law is clearly unconstitutional.”
Chemerinsky said that the law is a viable threat to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, and said that Roe v. Wadewas “the landmark decision that protects a woman’s liberty to choose whether to have an abortion.” He appeared to be unhappy with the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has five conservative-leaning justices “who grew up as a part of this [conservative, pro-life] movement.” He claimed the justices “are not going to resist the chance” to upend the Roe v. Wadedecision.
He asserted that any federal court that will take up the Alabama law in court “would have to declare it unconstitutional.” Not stopping there, Chemerinsky claimed pro-life laws have a “disproportionate effect on poor women and teenagers,” among other liberal ideological claims.
It is important to note that Chemerinsky criticized President Donald Trump’s executive order on First Amendment protections on college campuses, and claimed at the time that universities would have a hard time to comply with the executive order.
The law at the center of the controversy, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, was passed by the Alabama Senate by a 25-6 vote and signed into law by Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey over a week ago. The law allows exceptions for ectopic pregnancy or lethal anomaly of the unborn child, but does not permit abortions in cases of rape or incest.
Governor Ivey and the majority of senators and representatives in the Alabama legislature are Republicans, who are often in the pro-life (or as Associated Press style says, “anti-abortion”) ideological camp. Gov. Ivey, in a statement touting her signing of the law, said that the law was passed and signed in order to challenge the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Her statement said:
“No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.”
Other states have passed similar legislation, such as Georgia’s fetal heartbeat bill and Missouri’s bill that bans abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, which states have Republican-majority state legislatures and governors.