Yesterday, the Alabama House passed HB314, a bill that would outlaw abortion in all circumstances, except when the pregnancy will lead to a “serious health risk” to the mother, and leaves even less room for mental health issues and suicidality. The law would make no exceptions for rape or incest. If any physician performs a successful abortion in the state, they could be charged with a Class A felony and face up to 99 years in jail. A woman seeking an abortion would not be criminally or civilly responsible.
If the bill becomes law, it would be one of the strictest anti-abortion restrictions in the United States. The legislation already has 67 co-sponsors in the 105-member House. In the 35-member, Republican-dominated Senate, which still needs to vote, 11 senators have co-sponsored a version of the bill (See SB211).
The proposed law would also undoubtedly unleash a wave of litigation, since its restrictions clearly conflict with Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. But that’s kind of the point: Republicans want the Supreme Court to eventually take up the case.
“I think fighting to overturn what I believe was a bad decision…is worth a fight,” Rep. Collins, R-Decatur the bill’s sponsor, told the Associated Press.
The bill was debated for almost two hours before the final vote.
Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, asked Collins to amend the bill to make exceptions for rape and incest. Collins said she would not take any amendments to the bill because she wants the focus of the bill to be on overturning Roe. The amendment was tabled on a 72-26 vote.
Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham and the Assistant Minority Leader, suggested an amendment that would make legislators who vote for the bill pay for the ultimate legal challengers the bill would incur with their own salaries. The amendment was tabled with a vote of 61-27.
“I don’t know why you are standing there with that smirk on your face, [Rep. Teri Collins] when you are destroying so many ladies in this country,” Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham said.
Rep. Louise Alexander, D-Bessemer asked Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, what he would do if either of his daughters were raped and became pregnant. He said he could not know what he would do unless he was faced with that reality, to which she said proved her point.
“Nobody knows what a woman goes through,” Alexander said. “I know you don’t because you’re not a woman. You don’t know why I would want to have an abortion. It could be because of my health, it could be for many reasons. My choice is important. I just want to say one thing. Until all of you walk in a woman’s shoes, y’all don’t know.”
Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham read from a poem “If My Vagina was a Gun,” by Katie Hiem, comparing the gun’s rights debate to the debate of a woman’s right to an abortion.
“It is my opinion this will be a waste of taxpayer dollars that could ultimately go to addressing those real issues,” Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham, told the Montgomery Advertiser.
“We expected this vote to happen and we are ready for a fight in the Senate,” said Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. “Today’s floor debate made it crystal clear what Alabama lawmakers think about women. It also revealed just how callous and flagrant they can be.”
The ACLU testified two weeks ago in the House Health Committee to make sure lawmakers knew that the ACLU of Alabama would sue if they passed this bill. One of the previous lawsuits against legislation restricting access to abortion cost the state 1.7 million dollars in attorney fees.