Women Can Be Prosecuted For Taking Abortion Pills In Alabama, AG Says
Last week, the federal government made it easier to get abortion pills. But women in Alabama who use those pills to end pregnancies could be prosecuted, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Tuesday.
That’s despite a new Alabama law that criminalizes abortion providers, but prevents its use against the people receiving abortions. Instead, the attorney general’s office said Alabama could rely on an older law, one initially designed to protect children from meth lab fumes.
The law specifically states that women receiving abortions cannot be held criminally liable. However, Marshall said women using pills to induce abortions could be prosecuted under the chemical endangerment law.
“The Human Life Protection Act targets abortion providers, exempting women ‘upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed’ from liability under the law,” Marshall said in an emailed statement. “It does not provide an across-the-board exemption from all criminal laws, including the chemical-endangerment law—which the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed protects unborn children.”
Marshall has also said in the past that his office could prosecute doctors with U.S. Veterans Affairs who perform abortions for victims of rape or incest. He has also said people who assist in setting up out-of-state abortions could face criminal penalties, AL.com reported.
This is the first time he has said police and prosecutors could arrest women who have undergone medication abortion.
“Promoting the remote prescription and administration of abortion pills endangers both women and unborn children,” Marshall said in an email, the report states. “Elective abortion—including abortion pills—is illegal in Alabama. Nothing about the Justice Department’s guidance changes that. Anyone who remotely prescribes abortion pills in Alabama does so at their own peril: I will vigorously enforce Alabama law to protect unborn life.”
JaTaune Bosby Gilchrist, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, said women have the right to receive prescriptions from out-of-state doctors.
“The ACLU of Alabama is disappointed to learn that Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is continuing to insert himself into a person’s medical exam room,” Gilchrist said, according to AL.com. “Medical decisions should remain the private choice between a patient and doctor. The Alabama Attorney General lacks the jurisdiction to prosecute Alabamians from receiving legal and legitimate medical services prescribed outside the state of Alabama.”
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