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Senate abortion law sets tone for fight to come

A recent Alabama abortion law has set a new bar for the debate on Roe v. Wade.

By Solomon Smith, Managing Editor

Photo by Altairisfar/Wikimedia

A highly contested Alabama Senate bill passed into law effectively outlawing abortion in the state of Alabama and possibly setting a new standard for state abortion laws.

The majority Republican Senate passed the bill 25-6 on May 14. Gov. Kay Ivey admitted that the law is extreme and may not stand legal scrutiny while touting the bill as a triumph on the official Alabama governors webpage.

“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act,” read Ivey’s statement. “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.”

The statute also points to a possible fight in the courts stating: “at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable.” The statement comes a day before the state executed convicted multiple-murderer, Michael Brandon Samra, which many detractors point to as logically inconsistent.

The law removes abortion as an option for women in the state save for pregnancies that cause an immediate health risks to the mother, while eschewing the usual caveats of rape and incest.

Women were the impetus for the bill in the Alabama House of Representatives, led by Representative Terry Collins (R). A hand-written request for an amendment making an exception for rape and incest was sent to the governor’s office but ignored. One Alabama Senator, Vivian Davis Figures (D), asked her male counterparts about their experience with being raped or having to carry an unwanted pregnancy on the senate floor.

“And to take that choice away from that person, who had such a traumatic act committed against the,” said Figures, “to be left with the residue of that person, if you will, to have to bring that child into this world and be reminded of that every single day…some people can do that, but some people can’t.”

The bill is a part of a series of laws challenging abortion rights throughout the south. States have always had some say over when, and under what, conditions a woman may have an abortion, but the recent rash of strict laws pushes the limits.

According to an article in USA Today, six states already have a six week abortion ban, all in the South.

A Supreme Court with a conservative majority has caused some to worry that laws like this may help chip away at the provisions of Roe v. Wade, the controversial case that made abortion legal in the U.S. in 1973. The restrictions are not the only part of the Alabama law that many find upsetting. The ban also carries an unusually harsh punishment of up to 99 years in prison for the person who performs the abortion, although it bears no penalty for the mother.

The Missouri Legislature on May 17 passed HB126, the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, its own ban of abortion making the procedure illegal after eight weeks. It is now awaiting Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s signature; he must sign the bill by July 14. The concern is that these tough laws will drive the national feeling toward the left. Pat Robertson, a famous televangelist, noted this in an interview on Fox News.

“It’s an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe vs. Wade,” said Robertson, “but my humble view is that this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose.”

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