A near total ban on abortion signed into law last month by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has not deterred one of the nation's leading affordable healthcare providers from maintaining a presence in the state. In fact, Planned Parenthood is building a new clinic in Alabama despite the abortion ban, according to the Associated Press.
"We are a doctor that Birmingham has counted on for decades, and we are committed to continuing to provide that care," Barbara Ann Luttrell, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based Planned Parenthood Southeast, told the Associated Press.
Ivey signed the Human Life Protection Act, or HB314, into law in May, effectively issuing a near-total ban on abortion. Under the law, performing an abortion or attempting to provide an abortion are felony crimes except in cases where necessary to prevent "a serious health risk" to the pregnant person. While the law makes no exceptions for rape or incest, it establishes that people who receive an abortion are not to be held criminally culpable or civilly liable. Rather the bill seeks to punish abortion providers with at least 10 years in prison.
In comments to the Associated Press, however, Planned Parenthood Southeast said HB314 wasn't a factor in the healthcare provider's new project. In fact, Planned Parenthood reportedly began building it's latest Alabama clinic, which is located in downtown Birmingham, in January.
What's more, legislative efforts to restrict abortion access in Alabama haven't appeared to impact construction progress. Luttrell told the Associated Press that there had been "absolutely no slowdown due to the legislative session." According to Luttrell, the organization has been complying with all applicable state laws, "so there should be no reason we would not be granted a license."
According to The Hill, the facility is expected to be ready in November, roughly the same time HB314 is set to go into effect unless blocked by a judge, which just might happen.
Planned Parenthood Southeast joined the the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in filing a lawsuit challenging Alabama's abortion ban in late May. "Alabama’s state motto is 'audemus jura nostra defendere,' which means ‘we dare defend our rights.' That's exactly what we're doing here today," Planned Parenthood Southeast President and CEO Staci Fox said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. "Abortion has been safe and legal in this country for more than 45 years and we aim to keep it that way. We are protecting the rights of our patients."
When signing HB314 into law, Ivey acknowledged the bill may "be unenforceable" given the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Roe v . Wade. However, she said many, including herself, believed the bill might provide an opportunity for the court to revisit abortion rights. "Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973," Ivey said in a statement released May 15. "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."
Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth had also said the ban was intentionally designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, saying it was "important" to pass it into law and "begin a long overdue effort to directly challenge Roe v. Wade."
"Now that President Donald Trump has supercharged the effort to remake the federal court system by appointing conservative jurists who will strictly interpret the Constitution, I feel confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe and finally correct its 46-year-old mistake," Ainsworth said.
According to the Associated Press, the new Planned Parenthood clinic being built in Birmingham is set to replace the current clinic the healthcare provider operates in that city.