June 13, 2011 ( – The pro-life movement in Alabama gained a significant victory this past week, although not as dramatic a victory as some had hoped for.

With less than 30 minutes before the midnight deadline, the Alabama legislature voted overwhelmingly to send the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to Governor Robert Bentley’s desk for his signature. However, a modified personhood bill, which would have recognized the life of the unborn child from implantation and banned all surgical abortions, died after failing to receive a vote in the state House.

The abortion ban that did pass, however, will protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion, with an exception for when the mother’s life is at risk, or when there is serious risk “of substantial or irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

The bill will effectively ban abortion after 20 weeks, which is when science shows the unborn are able to feel pain. The state had previously allowed abortion up to the point of viability, or 24 to 26 weeks.

“Modern medical science furnishes us with compelling evidence that unborn children recoil from painful stimuli, that their stress hormones increase when they are subjected to any painful stimuli, and that they require anesthesia for fetal surgery,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

“Therefore, the states have a compelling interest in protecting unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion. We strongly encourage Governor Bentley to make Alabama the fifth state to recognize this obligation by signing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act into law.”

The Alabama House, led by Representative Rich, passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Protection bill with a vote of 69-19. The Alabama’s Senate, led by Senator Beason, passed the bill by a vote of 26-5.

The Personhood bill, SB301, on the other hand, had passed the Senate 23-7, but was not voted on in the House before the end of the session.

The original text of the bill, introduced by Senator Phil Williams, read: “The term ‘persons’ as used in the Code of Alabama 1975, shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization or the functional equivalent thereof.”

Last minute changes to the bill changed it from a personhood bill, which would have banned all abortions, to a ban of all surgical abortions and many chemical abortions, by recognizing the life of the unborn from implantation, rather than fertilization. If the bill had passed the House, it would have been the first time in state history that all surgical abortions were outlawed since Roe v. Wade.

“While we were hoping for much more from this legislative session, we are excited to see the growth of the Personhood movement here in Alabama,” said Ben DuPre, of Personhood Alabama and the Foundation for Moral Law.

“A Personhood bill had never been this close to passage before in Alabama. We urge our legislators to approve a constitutional amendment next year that protects, as persons, the sanctity of every human life at every stage of biological development, including fertilization.”