Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has asked that a court dismiss a lawsuit against the state by the Yellowhammer Fund, an organization that funds abortions for women.
In its lawsuit, the Yellowhammer Fund argues that prosecuting women for out-of-state abortions is unconstitutional. Marshall filed a motion earlier this month in which he said that the state can prosecute anyone who assists women with undergoing an abortion in a pro-abortion state.
The Yellowhammer Fund said that prosecuting out-of-state abortions violates protections in place under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, namely freedom of speech. But Marshall rebutted that claim by stating that First Amendment defenses are invalid when the act in question is a crime.
Citing § 13A-4-4 of the Alabama Code, Marshall argued that “[a] conspiracy formed in this state to do an act beyond the state, which, if done in this state, would be a criminal offense, is indictable and punishable in this state in all respects as if such conspiracy had been to do such act in this state.”
According to Jurist, the Yellowhammer Fund countered that the statute should only include actions that are also illegal in the state in which they were carried out, not just in the state of Alabama. But Marshall stated that “federal courts lack authority to order a State official to comply with a federal court’s reading of State law.”
As reported by MSNBC, a state can’t prosecute crimes that are carried out completely outside of its borders. However, a state can prosecute portions of a crime that take place within its borders — in this case, the plans made while the woman is in Alabama by abortion fund organizations and abortion businesses.
In his motion to dismiss, Marshall explained, “An elective abortion performed in Alabama would be a criminal offense; thus, a conspiracy formed in the State to have that same act performed outside the State is illegal.”
A hearing was scheduled to take place on September 5 and this article will be updated as more information becomes available.