Alabama continues to make significant progress in protecting women from the harms inherent in abortion. Notably, in 2013, Alabama enacted laws requiring abortion clinics to meet the same patient care standards as facilities performing other outpatient surgeries and mandating that a physician examine a woman before providing abortion- inducing drugs.
- Alabama bans most abortions at or after 5-months (i.e., 20-weeks) on the basis of pain experienced by unborn children.
- Alabama requires that a woman be given a 24-hour reflection period before a physician may perform an abortion and requires that she be informed of the risks of and alternatives to abortion, the probable gestational age of her unborn child, and the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the child at that stage of development.
- Alabama also requires an abortion provider to perform an ultrasound prior to an abortion and to provide the woman with an opportunity to review the ultrasound, along with a state-sponsored videotape and written materials detailing sources of public and private support, adoption agencies, fetal development, abortion methods, and the father’s legal responsibilities.
- The state requires abortion providers to explain in printed materials that it is illegal for someone to coerce a woman into having an abortion.
- One parent must provide written consent before a physician may perform an abortion on a minor under the age of 18, unless there is a medical emergency or the minor obtains a court order.
- Abortion clinics must meet the same medically appropriate standards of patient care as other facilities performing outpatient surgeries.
- A requirement that abortion providers maintain hospital admitting privileges has been challenged by Planned Parenthood.
- Only a physician licensed by the state to practice medicine or osteopathy may perform an abortion.
- The state maintains an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure requires abortion providers to report short-term complications.
- Abortion clinics are required to report suspected child abuse.
- Alabama follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, only permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- The Alabama Office of Women’s Health may not advocate, promote, or otherwise advance abortion or abortion-inducing drugs.
- Alabama prohibits abortion coverage in the state health insurance Exchanges (required under the federal healthcare law) except in cases of life endangerment, rape, incest, or ectopic pregnancy. Further, Alabama voters approved a constitutional amendment that “prohibit[s] any person, employer, or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.” As a result, if individuals, employers, and healthcare providers are not required to participate in a particular healthcare system, their freedom of conscience to object to providing or paying for certain services that are included in that system (e.g., abortion or life-ending drugs or devices) is protected.
- Alabama requires that abortion-inducing drugs be administered by a physician and mandates that the physician examine the woman before providing the drugs.
- Alabama offers “Choose Life” license plates, the proceeds of which benefit pregnancy resource centers and/or other organizations providing abortion alternatives.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Alabama defines a “person” under its homicide laws to include the unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability.
- Alabama also defines a nonfatal assault on an unborn child as a criminal offense.
- The state allows a wrongful death (civil) action when an unborn child is killed through a negligent or criminal act.
- Alabama has created a specific affirmative duty for physicians to provide medical care and treatment to infants born alive at any stage of development.
- Alabama has enacted a “Baby Moses” law under which a mother or legal guardian who is unable to care for a newborn infant may anonymously and safely leave the infant in the care of a responsible person at a hospital, police station, fire station, or other prescribed location.
- Alabama maintains no laws regarding human cloning, destructive embryo research, fetal experimentation, or human egg harvesting, and does not promote ethical forms of research.
- The state maintains laws regarding the parentage of children conceived through assisted reproductive technologies.
End of Life Laws:
- Alabama does not have a specific statute criminalizing assisted suicide. However, under the state’s common law, assisted suicide remains a crime.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
Participation in Abortion:
- Alabama currently provides no protection for the freedom of conscience of healthcare providers.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Alabama currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of immoral medical research, which violate a provider’s moral or religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- Alabama enacted an omnibus measure which included requirements, based on AUL’s Abortion- Inducing Drugs Safety Act, requiring that abortion-inducing drugs be administered by a physician and mandating that the physician examine the woman before providing the drugs.
- It also adopted a requirement, inspired by AUL model legislation, requiring that abortion clinics meet the same medically appropriate standards of patient care as other facilities performing outpatient surgeries. A companion provision requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital has been challenged by Planned Parenthood.
- Alabama also enacted a measure requiring abortion clinics to report suspected child abuse.
- Legislators also considered measures related to informed consent, the opportunity to hear a child’s heartbeat before an abortion, pre-abortion ultrasounds, parental involvement, insurance coverage of abortion, and the “personhood” of the unborn child.
- The state enacted a measure regulating pain management physicians and clinics.
- Alabama considered legislation offering limited protection for healthcare providers with conscientious objections to specific healthcare services, as well as legislation offering protection to healthcare payers.
Recommendations for Alabama:
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Components of the Child Protection Act related to evidence retention and remedies for third-party interference with parental rights
- Defunding the Abortion Industry And Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Statutory prohibition on wrongful birth lawsuits
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
End of Life:
- Assisted Suicide Ban Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act