The Alabama Senate passed legislation this week that will outlaw abortion and punish women and doctors. The “total ban on abortion” is being called the worse-of-its-kind and pro-choice groups warn that it is a “blatant effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
“What I’m trying to do here is get this case in front of the Supreme Court so Roe v. Wade can be overturned,” says Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins (R). Republican lawmakers hope that advocacy groups fight back against Alabama’s ban so that the Supreme Court will take up the lawsuit and the conservative justices who are currently the majority will eliminate the constitutional right to abortion.
The new legislation, passed by a 25 to 6 vote, makes it a felony to terminate a pregnancy at any point. It is punishable by up to 99 years in prison.
Alabama’s decision is just the latest in the fight against women’s reproductive rights. So far this year there have been over a dozen states that have moved forward with near-total abortion bans. Just one week ago Georgie Gov. Brian Kemp signed a near-total abortion ban into law which bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Alabama’s ban is unique in the fact that it is a total ban, whereas other states banned the procedure up to a specific gestational age of the fetus.
“Alabama’s vote is the latest in a string of abortion bans specifically designed to strip people’s reproductive rights away. These bans will be deadly, endanger pregnant people’s lives, and criminalize doctors and health care providers for simply doing their jobs and providing care,” says Tarah Demant, the Director of the the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Program at Amnesty International USA.
“These bans reinforce violence against women by victimizing survivors of rape and sexual violence twofold by denying their right to access abortion. They are a gross and dangerous turn back to a dark history where women risked their lives to access their sexual and reproductive rights.”
Providers could be looking at 10 to 99 years in prison for providing abortions. Although there is an exception if the health of the pregnant woman is at serious risk, many pro-choice advocates warn that the possibility of serious jail time will make it unlikely that providers will provide any abortions no matter what.
“No health care provider should ever fear jail time for providing the safe health care their patients need. No one wants health care providers to have to decide if their patients are close enough to death to risk up to 99 years in prison. This demonizing of abortion providers only emboldens anti-abortion extremists, knowing they have outspoken allies in elected office,” says The Very Reverend Katherine Ragsdale, Interim President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF).
An amendment that would have allowed for exceptions for rape and incest was rejected by a vote of 21 to 11.
The 25 Republicans that voted in favor of the bill are all white men. The measly four women that are in the Alabama senate are all Democrats and all voted no.
NARAL Pro-Choice America released a statement after the news broke stating, “The Lt. Governor stated explicitly that this law is designed to overturn Roe v. Wade, as they capitalize on securing an anti-choice majority on the Supreme Court.”
The statement concluded, “It’s time to listen to women, not punish us for trying to make critical decisions about our own families and our own lives.”
Women and pro-choice groups have vowed to fight back. The Very Rev. Katherine Ragsdale says, “We and our members will continue fighting,” Ragsdale added, “to ensure people needing access to abortion care are able to obtain the compassionate healthcare they need.”
“With a record number of extreme bans on abortion and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, our fundamental right to healthcare is under assault like never before,” says Dr. Leana Wen, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood. We will do whatever it takes to stop this dangerous bill so that patients can continue to access the care they need. We are in for the fight of our lives, for our patients’ lives.”