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Alabama Senate Passes Bill that Effectively Bans Abortion in Nearly All Cases
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15 May 2019 12:26 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff Writer; Image: Kay Ivey (Image source: Public domain)

 

Conservatives were not going to miss the chance to try to take down Roe v. Wade with the most conservative group currently sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court. This left it up to Conservative lawmakers to attempt to pass legislation banning abortion at a state level.  

While those bills won't go into effect without a fight, it's the fight that is the ultimate goal anyway, as a fight would then send the issue to the high court to be debated there to possibly overturn 1973's Roe v. Wade decision on a nationwide level.

 

Earlier this week Republican Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed into law a so-called "heartbeat bill," which bans abortion if a heartbeat can be detected. Sixteen states have either passed similar bills or are working on them. 

Alabama's Senate just passed a bill that goes even further. They are effectively banning nearly all abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. The bill will make abortion legal only when necessary to save a mother's life.

 

"This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection," explained the bill's sponsor, Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins (R) after the vote on Tuesday night. 

"I have prayed my way through this bill. This is the way we get where we want to get eventually."

 

Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R) said they are carrying out "the express will of the people, which is to protect the sanctity of life," adding that voters approved, making the state pro-life. 

He further stated that the bill "simply recognizes that an unborn baby is a child who deserves protection — and despite the best efforts of abortion proponents, this bill will become law because Alabamians stand firmly on the side of life."

 

To counter the move of state lawmakers trying to pass anti-abortion bills to hopefully reach the Supreme Court, liberal lawmakers are trying to counter this by amending state constitutions to prevent Roe v. Wade from being overturned. 

The Alabama bill is the most restrictive so far of the anti-abortion bills, yet still passed 25-6. Any doctor who performs abortions can spend up to 99 years in prison. The six votes against it were all from Democrats, and another abstained.

 

They tried to stage a filibuster after the bill was debated for more than four hours. They discussed the role government should play in legislating what a woman can do with her body and the definition of life. 

A Democratic amendment to the bill was proposed that would allow for exceptions of rape and incest, but that failed 21-11. Democrats painted a picture of young victims of crime having to carry the fetuses of the crimes to term and having to live with them the rest of their lives.

 

Republican Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said before the vote that the idea of the bill is "personhood" and whether a fetus has rights. "Is it a life?" he questioned. "I believe it is, and if it's a life, you can't have any exceptions." 

While Collins has empathy for rape and incest survivors, she wanted to be sure the law was strong enough that it would reach the Supreme Court.

 

Republican Sen. Del Marsh, the top Republican and president pro tem, voted for the rape and incest amendment and encouraged other senators to think about it over the past weekend and talk to voters. She is not comfortable with laws that will force a woman to carry a baby that was conceived through rape or incest. 

When Alabama Sen. Clyde Chambliss, who brought the bill to the Senate, was questioned by Democratic Sen.  Rodger Smitherman about the circumstances of a 12-year-old girl being raped by a relative, Chambliss offered that the victim should get help right away.

 

He explained the law specifically bars abortions when a woman is "known to be pregnant," including victims of crimes. They could always get "treatment" before a pregnancy test, and this most likely means the Plan B pill that can prevent a pregnancy when taken just after sexual contact.  

Smitherman pointed out that victims of these types of crimes are often too afraid to report the crimes and can take months or even years to speak up. He added that it's unfortunate that the legislators want to punish women all to help them push their political movement.

 

"It's just like a racehorse in the Kentucky Derby — blinders on all sides — they just keep on this Roe v. Wade thing," he said. 

Democrat Sen. Vivian Figures introduced amendments to counter this bill. One would require lawmakers who voted yes on the bill to pay for legal fees it may incur, and another would make vasectomies a felony, with the explanation there are no laws regarding what a man can do with his body. Both measures failed.

 

She said in an interview before the vote that if she were a poor woman in the state, "I would be making plans to leave Alabama," adding "Who is going to stay in a state like this?" 

"The anti-abortion carnival show currently going on in the legislature is hypocritical grandstanding," said a law professor at the University of Alabama, Susan Pace Hamil.

 

"They love to champion themselves as defenders of children by fighting to make abortion illegal, but when it comes to education, health care, and other concerns, especially of our most valuable children, wealthier Alabamians and the Legislature couldn't care less." 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to pass the bill, which will certainly leave it up to legal challenges, landing it on the docket of the Supreme Court.

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