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Alabama Senate Passes Near-Total Ban On Abortion: Most Restrictive Law in the US

Alabama on Tuesday sent to the Governor’s table what is deemed to be the most restrictive law in the United States. The Republican-led Senate passed the bill after 25 votes were cast in favour and 6 against the bill.

If the governor signs the legislation, any doctor conducting an abortion shall be jailed for a lifetime. While certain organisations have already taken a pledge to knock the doors of the court if the bill becomes a law, Republicans are confident they will be able to defend it.

After nearly four hours of debating, the Republican-led Senate voted 25-6 and passed HB 314, which terms abortion at any stage in pregnancy a Class A felony. The bill doesn’t hold the woman, who shall undergo abortion criminally liable, but the doctor who shall perform it. Doctors are liable to be imprisoned for 10 years for attempting to terminate a pregnancy and 99 years for performing an abortion.

The bill makes provision for abortion under three circumstances only: “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.”

The Democrats re-introduced the bill to exempt rape-survivors and incest-victims, but the motion failed on an 11-21 vote.

Republican Governor, Kay Ivey has six-days to sign the legislation. Ivey has in past leaned towards anti-abortion, but has kept herself from commenting on the bill ever since it was passed.

“As this legislation is still making its way through the legislative process, the governor intends to withhold comment until it makes its way to her desk for signature,” Ivey spokeswoman Lori Jhons said in a statement.

The bill will come into effect only after six months of becoming law.

30 seconds before the debate ended, Bobby Singleton, Alabama Sen., a pro-choice Democrat said, “I would just like to say to all the women in the state of Alabama: I’m sorry.”


The Debate:  ‘Pro Life’ vs ‘Pro Choice’

Pro Choice: Staci Fox of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates called the decision “a dark day for women in Alabama and across this country”. She added that Alabama politicians would “forever live in infamy for this vote and we will make sure that every woman knows who to hold accountable”.

Democratic state Senator Bobby Singleton said the bill “criminalises doctors” and is an attempt by men “to tell women what to do with their bodies”.

Pro Life: Republican State Sen. Clyde Chambliss rubbished all allegations of the bill denying women their rights over their bodies and said that the bill will only impact women who are medically determined to be pregnant

“Any woman who thinks is pregnant and the man involved still enjoy that “window of time” to take a call and prevent pregnancy rather than neglecting it and aborting the pregnancy later, which is an inhuman act to commit. this bill does not change that window of time,” he reaffirms.


Rape and incest survivors

The Democrats motion to exempt rape and incest survivors from this bill was ruled out with 21 votes against the motion and 11 votes in favour.

Pro Choice: Democratic state Sen. Vivian Figures was seen telling Chambliss that a rape victim’s trauma “is not your business. You don’t have to raise that child, you don’t have to carry that child, you don’t have to provide for that child, you don’t have to do anything for that child, yet you want to make that decision for that woman, that that’s what she has to do,” she argued.

Democratic state Sen. Rodger Smitherman reinforced Senate Vivian Figure’s argument by questioning as to what would happen to a young girl who has been a victim of incest nd later finds out to be pregnant?  


 


Pro Life: Chambliss replied that he hopes that as a result of this bill, parents will educate their children to quickly seek help and report any abuse against them. “What I hope is, if we pass this bill, that all young ladies would be educated by their parents, their guardians that should a situation like this occur, you need to go get help — you need to do it immediately,” he states.

“Then also they can get justice in the situation,” he added. “If they wait, justice delayed is justice denied.”

Eric Johnston, head of the Alabama Pro-life Coalition and the drafter of the initial legislation, told CNN that the amendment to exempt rape and incest survivors might be “sympathetic” and “deals with very difficult issues,” but the exemption would defeat the very purpose of this law.

“Regardless of how the conception takes place, the product is a child, and so we’re saying that that unborn child is a person entitled to protection of law,” he added. “So if, be it a rape or inecst conception, then it would be impossible to ask a judge which of these is protected by law and which is not.”

While the Republicans in Alabama believe that the bill against abortion is only an approval away, the Democrats and pro-choice activists are preparing themselves to challenge the bill as soon as it becomes law.

The United States has been debating over the legitimacy of abortion for a very long time now.

While it is widely believed that the debate has left the state deeply divided, Vox in one of its studies found that contrary to the popular belief,  34% of Americans do not pick a side

The Republicans are pushing for stringent laws against abortion for it considers killing a foetus is as bad a crime as killing an individual protected by the law of the land. They also believe that an individual cannot assume the authority to end a life only because the individual happens to be the parent.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are challenging these laws and arguing that abortion pertains to the woman and that the decision-making process should be left to the woman.


Also Read: Mother Of 3 Girls Dies During Illegal Abortion After An Alleged Sex Determination Test

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