FACT CHECK: Can A 12-Year-Old Get Life In Prison For An Abortion In Alabama?

Anna Mock | Fact Check Reporter

A photo shared on Facebook purports a 12-year-old girl in Alabama could be sentenced to life in prison for an abortion under a new state law.

Verdict: False

Alabama law makes the provider of the abortion liable, not the patient. Legal experts debunked the claim.

Fact Check:

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 ruling that guaranteed abortion as a constitutional right, in June 2022, according to NBC. The Pentagon has announced a directive that will cover travel costs of service members who are seeking the procedure, Politico reported.

The Facebook post purports that a 12-year-old girl in Alabama would be sentenced to life in prison for receiving an abortion in the state.

“In Iran if a 12-year-old girl is raped and impregnated by her father, she must carry the baby to term, or be thrown in prison for life. Wait, sorry, no. That’s Alabama,” the post reads.

The post’s claim is incorrect. As part of the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, Alabama Code Section 26-23H-4 states that abortions can be permitted if an attending physician in the state determines the pregnancy poses a “serious health risk” to the mother and is confirmed by a second physician.

Alabama Code Section 26-23H-5 states, “No woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed shall be criminally or civilly liable.” Liability falls onto the physician that performs the abortion with very little exception.

“The Alabama criminal code (section 26-23H-5) expressly prohibits any woman, regardless of age, from being held criminally or civilly liable for having an abortion performed on them,” said John Acevedo, an assistant law professor at University of Alabama, in an email to Check Your Fact.

Acevedo said that abortion is punishable as a Class A felony in Alabama with up to life in prison, but that the abortion provider is liable. (RELATED: Does New York Allow Abortion Up To 28 Days After Birth?)

Amy Kimpel, an associate law professor at the University of Alabama, directed Check Your Fact to comments she made in a USA Today article. The prosecution of a 12-year-old girl would be handled in a juvenile delinquency system, not an adult criminal court, she told the outlet.

Kimpel also said that it’s possible for a prosecutor to request a case to be transferred from juvenile court to adult criminal court, but that it’s unlikely for a 12-year-old incest victim. 

This is not the first time misinformation about laws have been spread on social media. Check Your Fact recently debunked a claim that an initiative would remove security seals from Connecticut ballots.

Anna Mock

Fact Check Reporter

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