State hiring outside help to defend abortion ban

State hiring outside help to defend abortion ban

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The state is contracting with a lawyer and law professor for expert help defending the recently-passed abortion ban.

The $75,000 contract could be the first amount of state funds being used to defend the nation’s strictest abortion law. Under the law, performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider. The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk.

According to Deputy Attorney General Clay Crenshaw, who answered questions about the arrangement at Thursday’s Legislative Contract Review Committee meeting, Scott Gaylord will offer the Attorney General’s office “expert analysis as a consultant related to pending abortion litigation.” The contract summary also said Gaylord “has a high degree of professional knowledge regarding abortion.”

The Attorney General’s office said hiring outside experts in such cases is common.

Gaylord practices in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is an associate professor of law at Elon University School of Law. He mostly handles “complex civil and commercial litigation involving breach of contract, unfair trade practice, bankruptcy and appellate work in both state and federal court,” according to The Federalist Society.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood in May filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Alabama law that would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider. The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk.

During the Legislative Contract Review Committee meeting, Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said he would like further clarification on what Gaylord’s expertise is exactly in this subject.

England who opposed the anti-abortion legislation and said spending this amount of money on defending the law concerned him..

“Especially considering this is just the tip of the iceberg and will probably see many more independent contractors and attorney’s coming in to assist the state for what is arguably an avoidable expense,” England said.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, sponsored the legislation that had overwhelming Republican support and became law. She said lawmakers knew there would be a financial cost to defending the law they hope is eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Life has value and to defend that life is important,” Collins said on Wednesday. “… We are fighting for live and that that child in the womb is a person.”

Collins said states should have the right to have their own laws governing abortion, “which is really the goal of this bill.”

The law is set to take effect in November unless blocked by a judge before then.

Contract for Clotilda legal help approved 

The Alabama Historical Commission is contracting legal assistance regarding the finding of the remains of the slave ship Clotilda in the Mobile River.

The contract asks for an allocation of $25,000 of state funds for an attorney who has expert knowledge in maritime law.

“The Alabama Historical Commission does not have in-house council, so we use the State of Alabama Attorney General’s Office on legal matters,” Andi Martin, the marketing and public relations manager for the commission said.

“When our needs extend beyond their expertise, we will seek a specialist. In the case of the Clotilda, a major and important archaeological find, we sought a maritime attorney’s advice on the protection and preservation of this cultural resource.”

John P. Kavanagh Jr. is the attorney listed on the contract who will work on the case. He works for the firm Burr & Forman LLP and specializes in maritime litigation.

The Clotilda, is the last known vessel to bring slaves to the United States in 1860, more than 50 years after importing slaves was outlawed in the U.S. The ship was then burned and sunk by its captain in order to hide the evidence of the crime.

This year, the commission published a full archaeological report saying that remains they found in the Mobile River are likely those of the Clotilda.