Alabama AG argues state can prosecute people who help others obtain abortion care

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Steve Marshall, Alabama Attorney General, filed a motion on Monday saying that the state could prosecute anyone who helps people access abortion care outside of Alabama. He asked the court to dismiss an

suit brought by an abortion support fund, which argued that such prosecutions were unconstitutional. Marshall’s motion to dismiss framed helping people who are seeking abortions in states with legal access as a conspiracy. Marshall argued, citing SS 13A-4-4 in the Alabama Code that “ conspiracy to commit an act outside the state that, if committed in this State, would be a crime, is indictable, and punishable, in this State in all respects, as if the conspiracy were to commit such act within this state. In their complaint, the plaintiffs of the abortion assistance fund Yellowhammer Fund alleged that the statute should only be interpreted so that it includes acts that are illegal in the states where To counter, Marshall asserted that “federal courts lack authority to order a State official to comply with a federal court’s reading of State law.”

Marshall also refuted the plaintiffs’ argument that prosecution of such acts violates protections located under the US Constitution’s First Amendment by asserting that precedent forecloses First Amendment defenses when the act in question is a crime. Finally, Marshall contended that the plaintiffs’ argument, that they are “free from extraterritorial application of State law,” is invalid because the “the prohibited conduct in which they wish to engage would occur right here in Alabama.” Here, Marshall again referred to the issue of conspiracy.[a]According to Yellowhammer Fund’s lawsuit filed in late July:

When helpers extend a hand, they do more than simply provide aid; they send a message. Helpers send a message to those being persecuted that they are united in their humanity, their dignity, and their rights. They also work towards collective liberation. To the oppressors, helpers send a message of protest and defiance: that the persecutor’s attempts to isolate and oppress certain communities will not stand…Marshall disagrees with the message of solidarity, protest, and defiance being communicated by abortion funds and has set his aim on these helpers.

Following Marshall’s filing, California Governor Gavin Newsom posted a

stating that “

California will NOT cooperate with any state that attempts to prosecute women or doctors for receiving or providing reproductive care.” Marshall tweet, saying, “We aren’t asking for your permission…respondedAlabama will not permit abortionists to defy our laws and enrich themselves by marketing hopelessness to women.”A hearing in the case is scheduled to take place on September 5. The outcome of the case is expected to have a major impact on Alabamians’ access to health care. Even before Dobbs V. Jackson Women’s Health Organization took away the constitutional right to an abortion, a recent study showed that 25-44 percent pregnant women seeking abortions in Alabama were forced to travel outside of state.