Anti-abortion amendment to be on Alabama ballot

Anti-abortion amendment to be on Alabama ballot
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Alabama voters will decide whether to enshrine a "right to life" for fetuses in the state constitution next year.

State legislators on Wednesday approved a measure sponsored by a Birmingham-area Republican to place the amendment on the 2018 ballot. The measure would explicitly say the state constitution does not include the right for a woman to have an abortion.

The proposed amendment would have no immediate impact on state law. But the sponsor, state Rep. Matt Fridy (R), said it would make clear that the Alabama Constitution could not be used as a justification for allowing access to an abortion in the event the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned its landmark decision establishing abortion rights.

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“We want to make sure that at a state level, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, that the Alabama Constitution cannot be used as a mechanism by which to claim that there is a right to abortion,” Fridy told The Associated Press.

Alabama would be the third state to enshrine the "right to life" in its state constitution, after Missouri and Utah. The pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America has said that a dozen other states have laws on the books that would immediately limit access to abortion if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, including liberal states like Delaware and Massachusetts, and more conservative states like Arkansas, Louisiana and the Dakotas.

President Trump has pledged to nominate anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court.

Alabama is one of a handful of states that have sought to limit abortions and access to abortions during legislative sessions this year. Several states, including Iowa and Indiana, have passed laws prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

Even before the new legislation, the number of abortions in Alabama has been falling, along with national rates. The number of abortions performed in Alabama fell by 16 percent between 2011 and 2014, faster than the national average of 14 percent, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which backs abortion rights.