May 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Alabama House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to pass legislation that would criminalize the vast majority of abortions, with the express purpose of provoking a judicial review of Roe v. Wade.
The Alabama Human Life Protection Act bans abortion for any reason other than to “avert (a mother’s) death or to avert serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function” (mental or emotional health would not qualify). Performing an abortion would become a Class C felony, punishing abortionists with up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
“Just last year, roughly 60 percent of voters across the state ratified a constitutional amendment declaring Alabama as a pro-life state, and this legislation is the next logical step in the fight to protect unborn life,” Republican state Rep. Terri Collins, who filed the bill, declared last month. “With liberal states like New York rushing to approve radical late-term and post-birth abortions, passage of this bill will reflect the conservative beliefs, principles, and desires of the citizens of Alabama while, at the same time, providing a vehicle to revisit the constitutionally flawed Roe v. Wade decision.”
The Alabama House voted 74-3 to pass the bill Tuesday, AL.com reported. Democrats tried and failed to add two amendments, one that would add rape and incest exceptions and another that would require lawmakers who voted “yes” to personally cover the costs of defending the bill in court if it becomes law.
Through a two-hour debate, Collins and other pro-life lawmakers held firm that no amendments should be considered because the focus should be kept on the bill’s challenge to Roe.
“Nobody knows what a woman goes through. I know you don't because you're not a woman,” Democrat state Rep. Louise Alexander challenged. “You don't know why I would want to have an abortion. It could be because of my health, it could be for many reasons. My choice is important. I just want to say one thing. Until all of you walk in a woman's shoes, y’all don't know.”
“I believe that this chamber, this body will never make a greater decision that today I believe that with all my heart, protecting the life of an unborn child,” Republican state Rep. Rich Wingo argued. “In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, there are more murders, more abortions than anywhere in the state of Alabama. 3,500 average per year take place right on River Road. There are more abortions in Tuscaloosa than there are births. … It’s time for Alabama to lead for once.”
The debate now moves to the state Senate, where a version of the measure is currently pending before a committee. Alabama Republicans also hold an overwhelming majority in the Senate, but the chamber’s more moderate leadership may present complications.
“I’ve always had a position on any pro-life bills that you have to take consideration of rape, incest, the health of the mother,” Republican Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said last week, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. “What I understand with this particular one is that’s not the case, that it’s no exceptions. I’ve got to look at it. I’ve got a little bit of a problem and I want to talk to the sponsor and understand where this direction is.”
A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Kay Ivey declined to tell CNN whether the governor intends to sign the bill. But if some version does manage to become law, the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama has vowed to file a lawsuit to stop it.
“We are disappointed that the Alabama House passed HB314 despite the fact it would criminalize abortion and interfere with a woman’s personal, private medical decisions,” the ACLU chapter said. “It is unfortunate that members of the House are putting their personal beliefs ahead of what’s in the best interest of our state. The people of Alabama are paying the bill for unconstitutional legislation and we hope that the Senate members will realize its detrimental impact and stop this bill from becoming law. Otherwise, it will be challenged in federal court.”
Measures like the Alabama bill and the various heartbeat abortion bans introduced or enacted over the past year are part of a broader strategy by state pro-lifers to openly defy Roe’s “viability” cutoff for abortion laws, hopefully forcing the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 1973 ruling and finally restore voters’ freedom to fully decide abortion laws for themselves.