Even Tomi Lahren thinks Alabama's abortion ban is "too restrictive"

Lahren's views appeared to shock some of her conservative fans, although she announced she's "pro-choice" in 2017

Published May 17, 2019 2:05PM (EDT)

Tomi Lahren (Getty/Rich Polk)
Tomi Lahren (Getty/Rich Polk)

Fox Nation host and conservative commentator Tomi Lahren on Thursday joined the widespread and growing criticism of Alabama's new law that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, calling the legislation "too restrictive."

"I will be attacked by fellow conservatives for saying this but so be it," Lauren tweeted Thursday, "this Alabama abortion ban is too restrictive."

"It doesn't save life, it simply forces women into more dangerous methods, other states or countries," the unlikely activist added. "You don't encourage life via blanket government mandate!"

Lahren's comments came on day after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed the measure into law, setting up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision from  1973 that said a woman has a constitutional right to end a pregnancy until the fetus is developed enough to live outside the uterus.

The legislation, called the Human Life Protection Act, would prohibit abortions at every stage of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest, and is poised to become the country's most restrictive abortion ban. A doctor could be charged with a felony and face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion in most circumstances; doctors would face a 10-year prison sentence for even attempting an abortion.

It has moved through Yellowhammer State at a time when opponents of legal access to abortion nationwide have been emboldened by the transformation of the Supreme Court with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which secured a conservative majority on the nation's highest court for decades to come.

Anti-abortion activists and lawmakers across the country have pursued a range of proposals to limit abortions this year, including so-called "heartbeat bills," which outlaw abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That can be as early as six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant.

Supporters of such restrictions say fetuses are humans and deserve human rights. Many supporters are Christians and believe the Bible forbids most abortions.

A follower called Lahren anti-Christian on Thursday for denouncing Alabama's new measure. In response, she tweeted, "If you think banning abortion with no exception for rape or incest will stop women from terminating pregnancy, you're not being honest with yourself. P.S. you're not God so don't you dare evaluate my Christian faith based on your moral superiority complex."

Similar restrictive abortion bills have been signed across the country. Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, a Republican, signed a "heartbeat" bill last week, and similar measures have been signed into law in Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio. Missouri on Friday approved a bill that would ban abortions eight weeks into pregnancy, even in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking. Lawmakers in Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia are considering their own proposals.

Still, the measure in Alabama appears intended to go farther than the heartbeat bills — and to encourage a legal showdown over Roe's 46-year-old precedent.

Lahren's views appeared to shock some of her conservative fans, although she publicly announced she is "pro-choice" during an appearance on "The View" two years ago.

"I'm pro choice, and here's why. I am . . . someone that loves the Constitution. I'm someone that's for limited government, so I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government, but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies," she said at the time. "I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, you know what, I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body, as well."

She even warned in July that she believes pushing for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe would be a "huge mistake."

Still, Alabama, a conservative state where Republicans have long dominated politics and there are just three abortion clinics that regularly provide care, has a documented history of attempting to curb abortion access. Last year, voters supported an amendment to the Alabama Constitution declaring that the "public policy of this state is to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life."

In the past, lawmakers set a 48-hour waiting period for abortions; mandated that women receive state-directed counseling before the procedure; required a woman to undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion (and the provider must offer her the option to view the image); and required minors to receive consent for an abortion from a parent or legal guardian.

State lawmakers have introduced more than 250 abortion restriction bills so far this year, according to a study conducted by Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization.

Opponents of the legislation, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, have vowed to sue to block the measure if it becomes law. They intend to argue that a state cannot restrict access to abortion before viability — the point at which a fetus can survive outside the uterus — which is a right that federal courts have repeatedly reaffirmed in decisions since Roe. Any restriction on abortion must contain exceptions to protect the life and health of the woman and cannot create an "undue burden" on a woman seeking an abortion — a standard that was established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey" in 1992 and clarified in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016.

"Passing bills that they know will be struck down in federal court are a waste of millions of taxpayer dollars that could be going to address the urgent needs in our communities," the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama said in a statement. "Ignoring those needs in favor of scoring political points is an irresponsible use of their power and privilege."

Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen said, "In a state that has some of the worst health outcomes for women in the nation — such as the highest rate of cervical cancer — Alabama is putting women's lives at an even greater risk. Politicians who say they value life should advocate for policies to solve the public health crises that are killing women — not dismantle what little access to health care Alabamians have left."

By Shira Tarlo

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