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Abortion access in the U.S.

2006 and 2019: Anti-abortion bills in the Alabama Legislature:

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2006: Filing of an anti-abortion bill in Alabama:

On 2006-MAR-09, Senator Hank Erwin (R-Montevallo) introduced bill SB503 in the Alabama Senate. It replicates the provision of the comprehensive abortion ban signed into law in South Dakota three days earlier. It would make every abortion in the state a Class B felony, including those triggered by rape or incest, except those needed to save the life of the woman. Erwin said: "I thought if South Dakota can do it, Alabama ought to do it because we are a family friendly state." Referring to the bill's ban on abortions where the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest, he said: "I don't think you need to penalize the unborn child when something like that happens." 1 He continued:

"We are making a statement with the bill this year and next year we are going to take action. I don't think there is any doubt that the Alabama Senate is going to change next year. We are going to become a family friendly body to the unborn children of Alabama....In all statistical data, Alabama is the most conservative state in the Southeast. If abortion can be stopped, it can be stopped in Alabama." 2

The bill states:

"Section 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of Chapter 22 of Title 26, except in an extreme case of medical emergency where the life of the mother is threatened by the pregnancy, any person who causes or participates in the abortion of an unborn child shall be guilty of a Class B felony." 3,4

It is unclear from the bill's present wording whether an abortion performed when the fetus has died would subject the physician to prosecution. It is also unclear whether the woman receiving the procedure "participates in the abortion" to the extent that she might also be prosecuted.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Erwin received widespread press coverage in 2006-SEP when he stated that Hurricane Katrina was God's judgment of sin. At the time, he wrote in a column that he distributes to news outlets:

"Warnings year after year by godly evangelists and preachers went unheeded. So why were we surprised when finally the hand of judgment fell? Sadly, innocents suffered along with the guilty. Sin always brings suffering to good people as well as the bad." 5

Representative Nick Williams, (R-McIntosh) introduced a similar anti-abortion bill in the House. He said: "it's the right thing to do. It's something we need to address. I believe the majority of people in this state are pro-life and would support this legislation."

Both bills were been assigned to committees. However, there is little time left to deal with the bills, so they were not voted upon in the 2006 regular session. 1,2

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bullet John Giles, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, said: "I think you will see in every session from this day forward a South Dakota-type abortion ban bill."

bullet Cheryl Sabel, acting president of the Montgomery chapter of the National Organization for Women, said: "The thing that's distressing is the fact that you have these male politicians leading the charge to take away women's rights....The anti-choice forces are political extremists and religious fundamentalists, who are looking to make women subservient, powerless and unequal."

bullet Larry Rodick, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Alabama, said: "We're opposed to all these efforts to restrict access to abortion. It's a personal health care service that's available to women." She speculates that if the bill becomes law, women "will be forced to go back to back alley abortions or self-induced [abortions] with coat hangers." 1 On another occasion, he said:

"Alabama’s proposed abortion ban is the height of hypocrisy. On the one hand, politicians want to ban abortion. On the other hand, they cut off women from services that would prevent unwanted pregnancies." 2

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2019: Alabama legislature passes a very resrictive abortion bill:

The Alabama Human Life Protection Act prohibits essentially all abortions at any sage of pregnancy. Doctors who perform abortions face up to 99 years in prison! It was passed by large majorities by the Republican-controlled Legislature. On 2019-MAY-15, Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed the bill into law. It could become effective in mid-November, but is almost certain to be held up by a court ruling -- perhaps for years. The law makes no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest. However it does allow an abortion if required  "... to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother," or if the "unborn child has a lethal anomaly," or in the case of ectopic pregnancies.

Democratic Senators proposed an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims, but it failed on a 11 to 22 vote.

Governor Ivey wrote:

"No matter one's personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. 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."

She said:

"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."

Jeremy Dykes added a comment to Governor Ivey's twitter posting, saying that the State of Alabama is:

"... #49 in infant mortality; 1/10 children uninsured; 6,000 children in foster care."

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood have announced that they plan to file lawsuits arguing that the new law is unconstitutional.

There is considerable opposition among leaders in the Republican party to the Alabama law:

  • President Trump tweeted that he is pro-life, and that he opposes abortion except in cases caused by rape, incest, or when the life of the woman is at risk. He indicated that his position is the same as that of former president Ronald Reagan.

On late MAY-17, he tweeted:

"We have come very far in the last two years with 105 wonderful new Federal Judges (many more to come), two great new Supreme Court Justices, the Mexico City Policy, and a whole new & positive attitude about the Right to Life. Radical Left, with late term abortion (and worse), is imploding on this issue." 6

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said bill “... goes further than I believe” because of its lack of exemptions for rape and incest. 6

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel all recently said that they support long-standing exemptions from abortion restrictions including when a woman's pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. The Arizona law does not have such exemptions.

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Related essays:

bullet Laws restricting abortion in the U.S. and Canada
bullet Anti-abortion bills in various states
bullet Roe v. Wade: Its basis; court philosophies; political aspects
bullet The future battle over women's access to abortion; The impact if Roe v. Wade is overturned

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The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Bob Johnson, "Alabama legislators consider bills to ban abortions," Associated Press, 2006-MAR-25, at: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/
  2. Brian Lyman, "Alabama may be too late to join other states testing Roe v. Wade," Anniston Star, 2006-MAR-08, at: http://www.dailyhome.com/
  3. " 'Bama's hopping on the abortion ban train," Pam's Hose Blend, 2006-MAR-07, at: http://www.pamspaulding.com/
  4. "SB503," Stand Firm in Faith, at: http://www.standfirminfaith.com/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 
  5. Thomas Spencer, "Senator says storms are punishment from God," The Birmingham News, 2005-SEP-28, at: http://www.al.com/
  6. Seung Min Kim, "Trump signals Alabama abortion law goes too far but stresses he’s ‘strongly pro-life’," Washington Post, 2019-MAY-19, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/

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Copyright © 2006 to 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2006-MAR-26
Latest update: 2019-MAY-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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