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Alabama Abortion Laws

Abortion is illegal in Alabama unless there is a serious health risk to the pregnant woman.

Alabama defines a serious health risk as a condition that makes it necessary to terminate a pregnancy to preserve the life of the pregnant woman or avert a serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function.

Alabama Abortion Law After Dobbs

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022), the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, the longstanding case that recognized a federal right to abortion for decades. Dobbs returned the authority to regulate and even prohibit abortion to the states.

With the Court's rejection of Roe, American law in reproductive rights and privacy is no longer settled. It's challenging to keep up with the changes.

Like many Southern states, the state of Alabama continued to pass abortion restrictions after Roe. Often these laws were blocked by courts for either conflicting with Roe or for placing an undue burden on a pregnant person's right to abortion.

For example, in 2018, Alabama voters approved a state constitutional amendment declaring that the state constitution does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.

The Alabama legislature also enacted laws requiring waiting periods before abortion, counseling about alternatives to abortion, and parental consent in the case of minors seeking abortion care.

Current Alabama Abortion Ban

In 2019, the state enacted a near-total abortion ban called the Human Life Protection Act. It is one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the U.S. Alabama lawmakers sought to use the law to challenge and overturn Roe. Courts blocked the law at that time.

Alabama's 2019 abortion ban, which prohibits all abortions unless medically necessary to avoid a serious health risk to the pregnant woman, became effective after Dobbs. There are no exceptions for cases involving rape, incest, or human trafficking.

Alabama's definition of abortion does not include a procedure or act to terminate the pregnancy of a woman with an ectopic pregnancy. It also does not include the procedure or act to terminate a pregnancy when the unborn child has a lethal anomaly. 

The penalties in Alabama's abortion law focus on those who perform an illegal abortion. The state will not file criminal charges against a pregnant woman who has an abortion. Physicians and other healthcare workers found in violation of the law face felony charges and years in prison.

Efforts to Prevent Residents from Traveling for Abortion Services

After Dobbs, abortion providers stopped providing direct assistance for elective abortions in Alabama. Nonprofit organizations like the Yellowhammer Fund continue to assist Alabama women with questions about abortion access and reproductive health care.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has threatened those who assist Alabama residents with obtaining abortion services out of state. He stated such groups may face charges for conspiring to violate the abortion law. As a result, abortion rights advocates filed civil lawsuits seeking a court ruling to prevent such criminal charges.

The U.S. Department of Justice weighed in on the issue, stating that a state cannot interfere with an individual's right to travel and that includes the right to travel for abortion care where such care is legal.

Courts in Alabama and Idaho, where similar laws ban assistance with such travel, have not issued a final ruling at this time.

Alabama Supreme Court ruling on IVF

In 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld wrongful death lawsuits brought by parties whose fertilized embryos from in vitro fertilization treatment (IVF) were accidentally destroyed.

The case surrounded the issue of whether a human embryo met the definition of a child for the statute. The state's 2019 abortion law includes a definition of a fetus that includes the scientifically unfounded statement of "a fetus in utero at any stage of development."

The court expanded the definition of a fetus in state law. It held that frozen embryos that were extra-uterine (held or kept outside the uterus) constituted children under the wrongful death statute.

The court's ruling caused several providers of IVF in Alabama to suspend their services. In response, the state legislature expedited passage of a temporary law designed to provide legal protections to those engaged in IVF treatments.

Alabama Abortion Laws: The Basics

Key provisions of the extremely restrictive abortion laws in Alabama are highlighted in the table below. 

Relevant Alabama Abortion Statutes (Laws)

Alabama Constitution, Article I

Code of Alabama, Title 26, Infants and Incompetents

Chapter 21, Parental Consent to Performing Abortion Upon Minor

Chapter 23, Partial-Birth Abortion Act

Chapter 23A, Woman's Right to Know Act

Chapter 23H, The Alabama Human Life Protection Act



When Is Abortion Legal?

In Alabama, all abortions are illegal unless a physician determines an abortion is necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant woman.

A serious health risk is a condition that necessitates the termination of the pregnancy to preserve the life of the pregnant woman or avert a serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function.


Consent Requirements

Adult: Except in a medical emergency, the pregnant patient must provide voluntary and informed consent at least 48 hours before the abortion. The physician must go over alternatives to abortion, provide state-produced written materials, conduct an ultrasound, provide the gestational age of the child, and discuss the risks of both abortion and of carrying to term.

Minor: Except in a medical emergency, either the parent or the legal guardian of the pregnant patient must provide consent (as described above), unless the minor has elected to seek a judicial bypass (waiver of consent) and the judge permits the abortion.


Penalty for Unlawful Abortion

Individuals who provide abortion services (or attempt to do so) in violation of the law, face felony charges.

  • Committing an illegal abortion is charged as a Class A felony punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison
  • Attempting an illegal abortion is charged as a Class C felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison

There is no criminal or civil liability for a pregnant woman who chose to have an abortion in violation of state law.


Medication Abortion Available?

 No. Medication abortion is unavailable in Alabama.


Residency Requirements for Patients



Physician Licensing Requirements

Any legal abortion necessary due to a serious health risk to the pregnant woman must be performed by a licensed physician in a hospital at which they have admitting privileges.


Note: State laws are subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include 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 status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.

How Alabama Compares to Other States

Alabama's abortion law prohibits nearly all abortions in the state. Its majority Republican legislature, governor, and attorney general all oppose both abortion and the right for a woman to make choices about her body.

Since Dobbs, some 15 states, including Mississippi and Texas, have harsh abortion bans. Georgia has a six-week ban. In Florida, a six-week ban will take effect on May 1, 2024. These statutes often provide only limited exceptions for abortion in cases of medical emergency or to preserve the life of the pregnant woman.

In contrast, over 30 states permit legal abortion at 15 weeks or longer. Many states do not limit abortion rights until viability at 22-24 weeks of pregnancy. Several states and the District of Columbia permit abortion at all stages of pregnancy.

A Note About Medication Abortion

Medication abortion occurs early in pregnancy through a two-pill regimen first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the year 2000. A recent study found that some 63 percent of abortions in the U.S. involved medication abortion.

Abortion opponents filed a lawsuit in 2022, challenging FDA regulations associated with mifepristone, one of the two abortion pills used in medication abortion. They objected to the approval of the drug and FDA rule changes in 2016 and 2021 related to its prescription and distribution.

In Texas, a federal judge issued an injunction against the use of mifepristone. At the same time, in Washington, another federal judge held that the government must grant continued access to the drug in states where abortion remained legal.

The U.S. Supreme Court placed all lower court rulings on hold and permitted the drug to remain in use for now. It held hearings and is expected to issue a decision on the matter in 2024.

Research the Law

  • Alabama Law - Summaries of select Alabama statutes relating to criminal, family, injury, consumer, small business, and other areas of the law.
  • Alabama Legal Research - FindLaw's guide to legal research into Alabama laws and case opinions.
  • Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and D.C.

Alabama Abortion Laws: Related Resources

  • Family Planning Clinics in Alabama - Although there are no abortion clinics in the state, contraception remains legal at the moment. There are some 81 family planning clinics in the state. Locations include Montgomery, Birmingham, and other cities.
  • Abortion Rights: FAQ - Common questions surrounding the issue of abortion in the U.S.

Get Professional Legal Help With Your Alabama Abortion Rights Concerns

The prospect of an unwanted pregnancy can be confusing and frightening for women. State regulations on access to legal abortion are constantly changing.

If you believe you have been denied your rights or have other abortion-related concerns, consider seeking legal advice. You can speak with an Alabama family law attorney to get answers to your questions.  

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