On Tuesday, Alabama’s Republican-controlled state senate passed a bill that bans abortion in almost all instances, even in the case of rape or incest.
The bill says that the only case in which abortion can be permitted is when a pregnancy poses a “serious health risk” to the mother. A slew of Democratic amendments, including exemptions for rape or incest, failed.
If the law goes into effect, any physician who performs a successful abortion could be charged with a Class A felony and face up to 99 years in prison.
The bill passed thanks to the votes of a group of exclusively white, male Republican senators, and amendments introduced by the state’s four women senators were all dismissed.
“You don’t have to raise that child. You don’t have to carry that child. You don’t have to provide for that child,” Vivian Davis Figures, a Democratic senator, told the bill’s proponents during a four-hour debate on Tuesday. “You don’t have to do anything for that child, but yet you want to make the decision for that woman.”
“You don’t have to do anything for that child, but yet you want to make the decision for that woman.”
Alabama is the 16th state to introduce abortion restrictions since the start of this year, but this bill, which compares abortion to the Holocaust, would give the state the strictest anti-abortion restrictions in the nation.
"This is a dark day for women in Alabama and across this country,” said Staci Fox of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates.
Republicans across the country have pushed increasingly strict abortion legislation, including in neighboring Georgia where lawmakers recently approved a bill banning abortion after six weeks, which is effectively a total ban.
Alabama’s bill will now go to Republican Governor Kay Ivey, who is likely to sign it, and it will face immediate legal challenges from groups like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. “[We] will file a lawsuit to stop this unconstitutional ban and protect every woman’s right to make her own choice about her healthcare, her body, and her future,” the ACLU of Alabama said Tuesday.
Republican proponents of stricter abortion laws, however, welcome the legal challenge, as many want to see the Supreme Court take up Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Alabama’s bill is explicitly designed for this purpose.
“I think fighting to overturn what I believe was a bad decision that allowed people to kill unborn children is worth a fight,” Republican state Rep. Terri Collins, the bill’s sponsor, told the Associated Press last month. She later added: “This is aimed to get them to please reconsider and look at that decision.”
Cover: Sen. Clyde Chambliss speaks as debate on HB314, the near-total ban on abortion bill, is held in the senate chamber in the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday May 14, 2019. (Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser via AP)