Alabama’s informed consent law (SB 333) went into effect yesterday, mandating that all women seeking an abortion meet with a health care professional 24-hours prior to the procedure. The state law originally required distribution of state-developed brochures covering information about fetal development, abortion risks, and alternatives to abortion. However, in September, the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP)Ñrepresenting six state health clinics and two physiciansÑrequested an injunction, charging that the printed materials “contained numerous inaccuracies and misleading information” unchecked by the Alabama Department of Public Health. US District Judge Harold Albritton stipulated that the Department of Public Health be prohibited from disseminating the materials until he assesses their accuracy. Meanwhile, women must receive information that is “truthful and not misleading.” Only women carrying unviable fetuses are exempt from the new law.
CRLP attorneys argue that the waiting period is unduly burdensome, particularly for women in areas where access to clinics is already difficult. A September press release stated, “Women may have to take additional time off from work, arrange childcare, or even remain away from home overnight or pay for another round trip to the clinic.” The law is especially damaging to women seeking abortions who are victims of rape or incest as information on alimony requirements and adoption services are also required.
According to the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, 23 states mandate waiting periods for abortions.