The Power House refuge in Montgomery, which is next door to and supports the state capital's only abortion clinic, has reportedly been flooded with calls from women worried they will not be able to access treatment.
Volunteer Bianca Cameron-Schwiesow told NBC News: “They’re asking, ‘Can we still come in? Are you still open?’ They’re in a panic and they’re scared. And we say that is fine, you can still come in because they don’t realise that this is going to stay open for the next six months.”
The clinic itself, Reproductive Health Services, also posted on Facebook to tell patients that “we are still open and we’re not going anywhere”.
On Thursday Alabama’s Republican governor Kay Ivey signed the ban into law and declared that it proved her constituents’ belief that “every life is a sacred gift from God”.
If it survives legal challenges, the measure will block all abortions except in cases where an expectant mother’s life is at risk. Women and girls who have been raped, including by members of their family, will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term.
It is due to come into force in November.
Reports of panicked women trying to find out whether they could still access terminations came as the top Republican in the US House of Representatives said he believed Alabama politicians had gone too far.
The state’s ban “goes further than I believe” by preventing abortions for victims of rape and incest, said minority leader Kevin McCarthy.
Republican senator Susan Collins called the law “terrible” and “very extreme”. The Supreme Court was unlikely to uphold it, she said.
On Friday Missouri was expected to pass its own abortion ban that would outlaw the procedure after eight weeks of pregnancy even for girls and women who have been raped by family members.
Doctors could be jailed for between five and 15 years for breaking the law, though women who undergo an abortion would not be prosecuted. Alabama’s law mandates up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions.
Both measures are part of a sweeping attempt by state-level Republicans to force a showdown in the Supreme Court. They hope its new conservative majority will vote to repeal the landmark Roe vs Wade decision that guaranteed legal abortions in 1973.
Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky and Georgia have also approved bans on abortion once a foetal heartbeat can be detected. That tends to happen at about six weeks’ gestation, before many women know they are pregnant.
Mike Pence has said he would like to see Roe defeated and last weekend reaffirmed the Trump administration’s anti-abortion position. The White House stood “without apology for the sanctity of human life”, the deeply religious vice president told graduates of the evangelical Christian Liberty University.