A federal judge recently ruled against Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in his motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state's ability to prosecute those who assist in facilitating out-of-state abortions.

Alabama has some of the tightest abortion restrictions in the country, banning the practice entirely except in the case of "a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother."

After the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision in 2022, which overturned Roe v. Wade, Alabama's Human Life Protection Act, which the governor signed in 2019, went into effect.

Marshall has said that under Alabama's accessory and conspiracy provisions, those who help arrange and fund out-of-state abortions could be held criminally liable.

Citing those comments, the Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama organization that facilitates out-of-state abortions, is suing Marshall.

According to the Yellowhammer Fund, Marshall's comments violated their "constitutional rights to free expression, association, travel, and due process and intrude on the sovereignty of state where abortion is legal." The lawsuit also asserts that the threat of prosecution would threaten their Constitutional right to travel.

Another lawsuit was filed in Alabama against Marshall, with the West Alabama Women's Center, Dr. Yashica Robinson, and the Alabama Women's Center represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Marshall motioned to dismiss the suits, claiming the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring a right-to-travel claim on their client's behalf. That, even if these plaintiffs did have standing, Alabama could prohibit their abortion-related assistance without violating their client's constitutional rights.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson denied Marshall's motion to dismiss the suit, saying the plaintiffs both have a vested interest as a third party and that any potential prosecution for traveling abortions would likely violate the constitutional right to travel.

"Alabama can no more restrict people from going to, say, California to engage in what is lawful there than California can restrict people from coming to Alabama to do what is lawful here," Thompson wrote in his opinion. "In this sense, the case is not an especially difficult call."

"The claim will not be dismissed because (a) the right to travel includes the right both to move physically between States and to do what is lawful in those States and (b) prosecuting those who facilitate lawful out-of-state abortions, as the Attorney General threatens to do, would violate that right," he continued.

Thompson did not make a final deliberation on the merits of the case. The suits will still have to be decided in court.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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