Alabama: 5 Things To Know About New Law Banning All Abortions Even After Rape & Incest

Alabama has just passed the strictest anti-abortion law in the country, virtually banning the procedure. There will be no exceptions even for cases of rape or incest, and doctors could go to prison for 99 years if they perform one.

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UPDATE 6/15/2019, 6:16pm EST: On May 15, Gov. Kay Ivey tweeted a photo of herself signing the Alabama Human Life Protection Act into law. She wrote, “Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act. To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious & that every life is a sacred gift from God.” Meanwhile, opponents of the ban have tweeted the photo of the 25 white male lawmakers who voted for the act. (See below.)

ORIGINAL: Women will not be allowed to get a safe, legal abortion in Alabama unless they are at risk of dying, now that the state law makers have passed a law banning the procedure on May 14. The bill is now being sent to Governor Kay Ivey, who observers believe will sign it. The governor and law makers hope that the law will make it’s way to the Supreme Court as a challenge to the case that made abortion legal in the US in 1973. They hope the Supreme Court will overturn that landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, therefore taking away American women’s right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy. While it follows the six-week limit set by states like Georgia and Ohio recently, unlike the others, the bill does not allow abortions for victims of rape or incest.

The Alabama bill HB 314 passed 25-6, with six of the Senate’s Democrats voting against the bill. One Democrat is said to have abstained, and a filibuster was staged into Tuesday night after debating the bill for more than four hours. While no Republicans voted against passage of the bill, four people voted for an amendment that would allow exceptions in the case of rape or incest. Senator Del Marsh is said to be one of those four people. Alabama is, of course, a state where voters endorsed an amendment to the Alabama Constitution in 2018, which reads that the “public policy of this state is to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.”

1. Doctors who perform abortions will be jailed. Unlike Georgia, where the fetal heartbeat bill could get women life in prison or the death penalty, Alabama’s bill targets abortion providers. Doctors who perform abortions will be charged with a Class A felony, and receive from 10 to 99 years in prison; attempting to perform an abortion could mean 10 years imprisonment under the proposed law.

2. The Alabama Senate fought over including a provision that allows abortion in cases of rape or incest. The Alabama House-passed bill does allow abortions in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger. What the Senate fought over is a proposed amendment that would allow abortion after rape or incest. The matter was so contested that a previous attempted Senate vote ended in shouting match, leaving it tabled until May 14, and was not approved during that second hearing.

3. This law especially harms poor women. Democrats and abortion advocates fear that the law will drive abortions underground, endangering the lives of women. “We want abortions to be safe, and we want them to be few, but [they] should be legal, because there will be abortions,” Democratic Senator Linda Coleman-Madison told The New York Times. She is one of just four women in Alabama’s 35-member Senate. ““The people who have the wherewithal will fly out of state,” she added. “Not everyone can afford to do that.”

4. Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth is backing the bill without the rape and incest exemptions. Ainsworth, 38, took to YouTube in the hours before the vote to beg voters to call their Senators and ask them to vote for the House version of the bill. “Abortion is murder,” Ainsworth said in a 35 second video. “Those three simple words sum up my position on an issue that many falsely claim is a complex one… It is important that we pass this statewide abortion ban legislation and begin a long overdue effort to directly challenge Roe v. Wade.”

5. Supporters are hoping the bill will challenge Roe v. Wade. “Until now, there was no prospect of reversing Roe,” Alabama Pro-Life Coalition co-founder and president, Eric Johnston, who drafted the bill, told the New York Times. “Why not go all the way?”

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