Alabama abor­tion ban bill ig­nites le­gal, po­lit­i­cal bat­tles

The News-Times - - NATION / WORLD -

MONT­GOMERY, Ala. — Alabama’s Repub­li­can gov­er­nor signed the most strin­gent abor­tion leg­is­la­tion in the nation Wed­nes­day, mak­ing per­form­ing an abor­tion a felony in nearly all cases.

“To the bill’s many sup­port­ers, this leg­is­la­tion stands as a pow­er­ful tes­ta­ment to Alabami­ans’ deeply held be­lief that ev­ery life is pre­cious and that ev­ery life is a sa­cred gift from God,” Repub­li­can Gov. Kay Ivey said in a state­ment.

The bill’s sponsors want to give con­ser­va­tives on the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to gut abor­tion rights na­tion­wide, but Democrats and abor­tion rights ad­vo­cates crit­i­cized the bill as a slap in the face to women vot­ers.

“It just com­pletely dis­re­gards women and the value of women and their voice. We have once again si­lenced women on a very per­sonal is­sue,” said Sen. Linda Cole­man-Madi­son, a Birm­ing­ham Demo­crat.

Cole­man-Madi­son said she hopes the mea­sure awak­ens a “sleep­ing gi­ant” of women vot­ers in the state.

But Repub­li­can poll­ster Chris Kratzer noted that there is no con­gres­sional dis­trict and likely no leg­isla­tive dis­trict with enough swing vot­ers to put Re­pub­li­cans at se­ri­ous risk in the state.

“The peo­ple who are out­raged about this are not the peo­ple who are elect­ing these guys, gen­er­ally speak­ing, es­pe­cially when we’re talk­ing about the pri­mary,” he said.

The leg­is­la­tion Alabama se­na­tors passed Tues­day would make per­form­ing an abor­tion at any stage of preg­nancy a felony pun­ish­able by 10 to 99 years or life in prison for the provider. The only ex­cep­tion would be when the woman’s health is at se­ri­ous risk. Women seek­ing or un­der­go­ing abor­tions wouldn’t be pun­ished.

Ivey ac­knowl­edged Wed­nes­day that the mea­sure may be un­en­force­able in the short term.

“The sponsors of this bill be­lieve that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to re­visit this im­por­tant mat­ter, and they be­lieve this act may bring about the best op­por­tu­nity for this to oc­cur,” Ivey said.

Rep. Terri Collins, the bill’s spon­sor, said she be­lieves the bill re­flects the be­liefs of the ma­jor­ity of the state elec­torate.

“I’ve heard from lots of women in the state who are ex­tremely pro-life and they’re very sup­port­ive,” Collins said.

Ken­tucky, Mis­sis­sippi, Ohio and Ge­or­gia re­cently have ap­proved bans on abor­tion once a fe­tal heart­beat is de­tected, which can oc­cur in about the sixth week of preg­nancy. The Alabama bill goes fur­ther by seek­ing to ban abor­tion out­right.

Abor­tion rights ad­vo­cates vowed swift le­gal ac­tion.

“We are laser-fo­cused on urg­ing Gov. Kay Ivey to veto this dan­ger­ous bill. If she chooses not to, then we will take this to court and en­sure that abor­tion re­mains safe and le­gal and ac­ces­si­ble in the state of Alabama,” said Staci Fox, pres­i­dent and CEO of Planned Par­ent­hood South­east.

Sup­port­ers of the bill ac­knowl­edged the ban would not be ef­fec­tive any­time soon, be­cause they ex­pected it to be blocked by the courts as they fight up­ward to­ward the court.

Hal Yea­ger / As­so­ci­ated Press

This pho­to­graph re­leased by the state shows Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey sign­ing a bill that vir­tu­ally out­laws abor­tion in the state on Wed­nes­day in Mont­gomery, Ala.

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