Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay
A woman may not obtain an abortion until after the attending physician, referring physician, or physician's agent, who is a psychologist, licensed social worker, licensed professional counselor, registered nurse, or physician, tells her: (1) the nature of the proposed procedure, including risks and alternatives; (2) the probable gestational age of the "unborn child"; (3) the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the "unborn child"; (4) if the "unborn child" is viable or has reached the gestational age of more than 19 weeks, that the "unborn child" may be able to survive outside the womb, the woman has the right to request the physician to use the method most likely to preserve the life of the "unborn child," and that if the "unborn child is born alive," the attending physician is legally obligated to take all reasonable steps necessary to maintain the life and health of the child; (5) the attending or referring physician must provide an ultrasound prior to the abortion and that the woman has the right to view the ultrasound prior to the abortion; (6) she has a right to view a state-prepared video; (7) she is free to withdraw or withhold consent without loss of any state or federally funded benefits; and (8) the name of the physician who will provide the abortion, in writing or a business card.
In addition, at least 48 hours prior to an abortion, the woman must be informed about and be given state-prepared materials by the attending physician, referring physician, or physician's agent, who is a psychologist, licensed social worker, licensed professional counselor, registered nurse, or physician, in person or by return-receipt certified mail. If the materials are provided by mail, the woman must receive them again in person prior to the abortion.
The state-prepared materials must: (1) provide a geographically indexed comprehensive list, including names and telephone numbers, of public and private agencies and services available to provide medical and financial assistance to a woman through pregnancy, prenatal care, upon childbirth, and while her child is dependent; (2) include a geographically indexed list of adoption agencies and state that the law permits adoptive parents to pay the costs of prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; (3) include "realistic, clear, objective, non-judgmental" materials to describe the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the "unborn child" at two-week gestational increments, including large color photographs, dimensions, and information on the possibility of survival; (4) describe abortion methods and the medical risks associated with each method and with carrying a pregnancy to term; (5) list the support obligations of the "father" of a child born alive; (6) state that a physician who provides abortion services without a woman's "informed" consent may be liable to her for civil damages; and (7) include the following statement: "There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you to carry your child to term, and to assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or place him or her for adoption. The State of Alabama strongly urges you to contact those agencies before making a final decision about abortion. The law requires that your physician or his or her agent give you the opportunity to call agencies like these before you undergo an abortion."
In addition, prior to an abortion, the woman must be offered the opportunity to review a state-prepared videotape that must include much of the information provided in the state-prepared materials.
Ala. Code §§ 26-23A-1 to -13 (Enacted 2002, Amended 2014, H.B.489, 2014 Gen. Assemb., Reg. Sess. (Ala. 2014)).
A court held this law constitutional. Summit Med. Ctr. of Ala., Inc. v. Riley, 274 F. Supp. 2d 1262 (M.D. Ala. July 25, 2003) (memorandum opinion and order).