‘Dark day for women’: Alabama Senate passes near-total ban on abortion

Erika Holt
May 16, 2019

Alabama sent the most restrictive abortion bill in the country to the governor's desk Tuesday night, with the state's Senate passing legislation that could punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison.

Sponsors insist they want to limit exceptions because the bill is created to push the idea that a fetus is a person with rights, in a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman's right to abortion.

The governor of the U.S. state of Georgia last week signed into law a ban on abortion from the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected, becoming the sixth USA state to outlaw abortion after six weeks of gestation. The state House had already overwhelmingly approved the legislation. Before the vote, the Republican-controlled state Senate removed an amendment without a roll call vote that would have allowed abortions in cases of rape and incest.

Republican Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signing a bill that virtually outlaws abortion in the state.

The legislation has moved through the deep-red state at a time when opponents of legal access to abortion nationwide have been emboldened by the transformation of the Supreme Court with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which secured a conservative majority on the nation's highest court for decades to come. "It's true that states have passed laws trying to make abortion a crime, but we will sue in court to make sure none of those laws ever go into effect". According to the Associated Press, the bill's supporters didn't want a rape or incest exception added to the bill because it would lessen the likelihood of being challenged at the Supreme Court.

Linda Coleman-Madison, one of the Alabama Senate's few women, reiterated the longstanding critique of abortion restriction: that it will not end abortions but rather make pregnant women seeking them more desperate and at more risk. In a statement, board member Dr. Yashica Robinson said, "Physicians will be unwilling to help patients in need, even when continuing pregnancy is detrimental to a patient's health...out of fear of being scrutinized by the criminal justice system".

Last week, Georgia became the sixth state to ban abortion as early as six weeks, so early into gestation that many women may not yet know they are pregnant.

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Democratic Senator Bobby Singleton reacted angrily at the vote - and at the gender of those who passed the bill.

"Regardless of how the conception takes place, the product is a child, and so we're saying that that unborn child is a person entitled to protection of law", he added. If the baby in the womb is human at all stages, then the law must protect human beings at all stages.

"This is nothing but a political game and women are the pawns", she said.

"We've seen the continual chipping away year after year in Alabama and efforts get bolder and bolder each year", Fox said.

Alabama's abortion ban has stiff penalties for women getting the procedure but doctors performing abortions could be imprisoned for 99 years on felony charges. The state has lost in federal courts, which have blocked the law, but it is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court's conservatives truly relish a fight over Roe v Wade, Alabama has only a governor's signature in the way of one.

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