Alabama sent the most restrictive abortion bill in the country to date 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.
The bill would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison.
The state's Republican backers have pushed the legislation forward with the express goal of overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case legalizing abortion. Many women, according to the CDC, won't know they are pregnant for four to six weeks, meaning that by the time they've learned they are, it's too late to obtain an abortion, especially if the woman lives in a state that requires a waiting period. Republican Senator Clyde Chambliss said as debate began on the proposed ban.
"The heart of this bill is to confront a decision that was made by the courts in 1973 that said the baby in a womb is not a person", Republican state Rep. Terri Collins said in April. But she also wants to make sure the law is strong enough to force federal court intervention - something she and others hope will lead to national restrictions on abortion.
(b) A person convicted of the offense of criminal abortion shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.
"You don't have to raise that child".
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Democrats didn't have the votes to stop the bill but tried to slow down proceedings during the debate. Those bills point to the detection of a fetal heartbeat as the point at which an abortion is banned, but the Alabama ban goes further.
The group Physicians for Reproductive Health said the near total ban on abortions would have a disastrous effect on healthcare. Ivey has not said publicly whether or not she will sign the bill, although she is expected to.
In other words, an abortionist providing an illegal abortion, or a man beating a woman and killing her baby, would be in deep legal trouble for murder; not the woman so-called "self-terminating".
"We are already preparing a complaint", said Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.
While the bill made its way through the legislature, dozens of celebrities and several Hollywood institutions such as the Writers Guild of America threatened to boycott the state if the ban was signed.