Speed Reads


An anti-abortion law in Alabama would appoint an attorney for the fetus

In July, Alabama legislators passed what could be the nation's most restrictive anti-abortion law targeting minors. If a teenager was seeking an abortion, this new law would allow the district attorney to call witnesses to weigh in on whether she is fit to actually make that decision. It would also allow the teen's fetus to have an attorney who could also call character witnesses.

The reason a teenager would have to face a courtroom in the first place is thanks to a law dating back to 1987, which requires one parent's consent before a minor gets an abortion. The Supreme Court upheld the law so long as judicial bypass — a procedure that allows teens to argue their case in court — was in place. Since then, judicial bypass has become the last obstacle between anti-abortion advocates and the state's near eradication of the procedure.

But the July act may still be in jeopardy. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday to block the new legislation.

"This process, known as judicial bypass, must be confidential and not overly long," Andrew Beck, staff attorney with the ACLU, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. "The Alabama law flouts these requirements by bringing district attorneys and a guardian for the fetus into the bypass hearings."

Supporters of the law, however, maintain it serves only to ensure that minors "fully understand the ramifications of their decision."