Alabama Abortion Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Note: While a new law significantly prohibiting most abortions contains an effective date of November 15, 2019, it will be subject to judicial review in state and/or federal courts. The courts can delay implementation of the law during the period of judicial review and can ultimately overturn the law if it's found to be unconstitutional.

Alabama has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States, including parental notification requirements that mandate court hearings if a minor does not wish to get parental permission. Additionally, Alabama never repealed the anti-abortion criminal statute made unconstitutional by Roe v. Wade.

But an Alabama bill signed into law on May 15, 2019 could make nearly all abortions in the state illegal, with felony charges for physicians who perform the procedure. The law was passed solely as a challenge to Roe and won't go into effect unless key portions of the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in the landmark 1973 ruling are overturned.

Alabama Abortion Laws: The Basics

Access to legal abortion is protected under the U.S. Constitution, although laws in some states have sought to restrict that access in various ways. This means it can be difficult to understand your rights and responsibilities under the law. Abortion laws in Alabama are highlighted in the table below, written in "plain English," including information about pending changes to the law (hinging on judicial review).

Code Section

Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion

Willfully administers by drug, substance, instrument which induces abortion or miscarriage. Partial Birth Abortion (26-23-1 to 26-23-6): Any physician who performs a partial birth abortion within this state and thereby kills a human fetus shall be guilty of a Class C felony and upon conviction shall be punished as prescribed by law. (Except to save life of mother.)

Under Pending Law:

All abortions are considered illegal unless it's determined to be necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother.

Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion

Necessary purpose to preserve life, health of mother or where fetus is not viable.

Under Pending Law:

Only those determined to be necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother. There is no exception for rape or incest.

Penalty for Unlawful Abortion

Fine of $100 to $1,000 and imprisonment to 12 months; abortion of viable fetus: Class A felony; violation of regulations concerning abortion procedures: Class C felony.

Under Pending Law:

Individuals who provide abortion services (unless the pregnancy presents a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother), or attempt to do so, may be charged with felonies.

  • Committing an abortion is charged as a Class A felony (punishable by up to 99 years in prison); and
  • Attempting an abortion is charged as a Class C felony (punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison).

There is no criminal or civil liability for women who choose to have an abortion in violation of state law.

Consent Requirements

Written consent of parent or guardian to perform abortion on unemancipated minor or judicial waiver of consent;

New requirements under HB 494:

  • Juvenile court may appoint a lawyer to represent the unborn child;
  • Minor must submit evidence that she understands the medical procedure and that she has been counseled by a qualified person on the alternatives to abortion;
  • Court must notify the district attorney and district attorney must participate as an advocate for the state and to examine the girl and any witnesses to help the court make an informed decision; and
  • Court may not contact the parents or legal guardians, but if they otherwise know of the case, they can participate in the proceedings.

Residency Requirements for Patients

-

Physician Licensing Requirements

Abortion of viable fetus must be performed by a physician, in a hospital, with concurrence of 2nd licensed physician as to viability

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

  • Alabama Law - Summaries of select Alabama statutes relating to criminal, family, injury, consumer, small business, and other areas of the law.
  • Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.

Alabama Abortion Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Legal Help With Your Alabama Abortion Rights Concerns

The prospect of an unwanted pregnancy can be confusing and frightening for women, especially when state regulations on access to legal abortion are constantly changing. As of this writing, women in Alabama still have a constitutionally protected right to the procedure. If you've been denied your rights or have other abortion-related concerns, it may be in your best interests to speak with an Alabama family law attorney.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.