Updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 11:55 p.m. EDT: The GOP-majority Alabama Senate Tuesday passed the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban, outlawing the procedure in all cases, except in instances of a “serious” risk to the mother, the Associated Press reports.
An amendment to add an exception to allow abortions in cases of rape or incest failed by a vote of 22 against, 11 for. The new legislation, expected to be signed by Alabama’s GOP governor, could go into effect in six months.
Doctors or medical providers convicted of performing an abortion would face being put in prison for up to 99 years.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other pro-choice groups are vowing to sue to stop the ban from being put into effect. However, anti-abortion supporters are looking for a fight, hoping that a legal battle will result in the issue being taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court and, ultimately, the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Republican lawmakers in Alabama Thursday were prepared to OK what would have been the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, outlawing the procedure except in cases of rape, incest or a “serious” risk to the mother. But those plans were put on hold at the last minute when some GOPers proposed getting rid of the rape and incest exceptions.
Protesters had already massed against passage of the bill. The legislation called for jailing doctors up to 99 years for performing abortions. A version of the bill passed by the Alabama House already had no exceptions for rape or incest.
But shouts and screams sounded on the Alabama Senate floor at the last-minute proposal to provide no exceptions in cases of rape or incest in the Senate version as well. And so the Senate tabled the vote until next week at the earliest.
Whether or not the Senate’s final version passes with the rape and incest exceptions, the legislation, which is expected to be signed into law by the state’s Republican governor, would still be the nation’s most restrictive abortion law — and certain to be challenged in court.
Supporters of the bill welcome that as their true aim is to take out Roe v. Wade in a battle at the U.S. Supreme Court level, where they’d hope the currently more conservative court would side with them.
Alabama’s efforts are similar to moves being made throughout the country in mostly Republican-led states. In Georgia, the governor just this week signed into law a so-called heartbeat bill, outlawing abortions after the first sign of a fetal heartbeat, something that occurs around the sixth week and often before women even realize they are pregnant. In Texas, a legislator has proposed the death penalty for women who have abortions.
Critics of the legislation say imposing such drastic change on a woman’s right to choose just to make a point is irresponsible.
“We will probably spend more money on legal fees on this particular case than it takes for us to be able to bring healthy babies into the world,” state Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat, said Thursday, according to the New York Times. “But we’re willing to do legislation for grandstanding, versus the ability to look at the human factor and allow a woman to have her own choice.”
Supporters of the bill, like Alabama state Sen. Clyde Chambliss, a Republican, disagreed: “That child has a right to develop and be delivered without its privacy being invaded, invaded by forceps and scalpels. That’s what this bill is about today.”