Alabama House Passes Near-Total Abortion Ban

By Zachary Stieber

The Alabama House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously for an abortion ban that would include few exceptions and make it a crime to perform an abortion at any stage in a woman’s pregnancy.

The bill contains exceptions only if there is a serious risk to the prospective mother’s health by continuing the pregnancy or if the child would die shortly after birth or be stillborn.

The bill, HB314, or the “Alabama Human Life Protection Act,” passed 74-3.

The bill noted that under Alabama law, a person is defined as including an unborn child at any stage of development, and that last year, voters in the state approved a constitutional amendment stating that there was no right to an abortion in Alabama’s 1901 Constitution.

Rep. Terri Collins answers questions during debate on the abortion ban bill at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala. on April 30, 2019. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
Rep. Merika Coleman (C) and members of the Democratic caucus walk out of the debate on the abortion ban bill to hold a press conference explaining their opposition to it at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala. on April 30, 2019. (Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

“Abortion advocates speak to women’s rights, but they ignore the unborn child, while medical science has increasingly recognized the humanity of the unborn child,” the bill states. “Recent medical advances prove a baby’s heart starts to beat at around six weeks. As early as six weeks after fertilization, fetal photography shows the clear development of a human being.”

The bill challenged Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision, saying that “Roe v. Wade attempted to define when abortion of an unborn child would be legal” and that “judges and legal scholars have disagreed and dissented with its finding.”

State Rep. Terri Collins, a Republican, said during the debate that state law shows that unborn babies are people.

“The heart of this bill is to confront a decision that was made by the courts in 1973 that said the baby in the womb is not a person,” Collins said, reported the Montgomery Advertiser. “This bill addresses that one issue. Is that baby in the womb a person? I believe our law says it is. I believe our people say it is. And I believe technology shows it is.”

Democrats tried to alter the bill but to no avail. House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, one Democrat, tried adding an amendment which would expand the exceptions to pregnancies borne of rape or incest but the amendment was tabled.

They said that there were a number of reasons women have abortions and that the law shouldn’t dictate when a woman can have one.

“Nobody knows what a woman goes through,” said Rep. Louise Alexander, a Democrat. “You don’t know why I may want to have an abortion. It could be because of my health. It could be many reasons.”

In addition to the near-total abortion ban, the bill would also make it a Class A felony for a doctor to perform an abortion and a Class C felony for attempting to perform an abortion unless the situation met the exceptions outlined in the bill.