Montgomery, Ala., May 14, 2019 / 19:57 pm
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law Wednesday a bill that will outlaw nearly all abortion in the state. The bill, which was passed by the Alabama Senate Tuesday night, is intended to be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional state measures prohibiting abortion.
The Human Life Protection Act (HB314) will make attempting or performing an abortion a felony offense. Doctors who perform abortion could be charged with a Class A felony and could face between 10 years and life in prison.
The penalty applies only to doctors, not to mothers, who, according to the bill’s sponsors, will not face criminal penalties for undergoing abortions.
The state Senate engaged in fierce debate last week, which ultimately erupted in a shouting match on the Senate floor, over whether an exemption for cases of rape or incest should be included in the bill. A vote scheduled for May 10 was delayed after exemption was removed from the Senate’s bill following a voice vote May 9.
The measure does include a provision that would allow abortions “in cases where abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother.”
The bill defines a serious health risk as a condition requiring an abortion “to avert [the mother’s] death or to avert serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function.”
Opponents pledged months ago to challenge the legislation in court. This is exactly what the bill’s sponsors expected. Supporters say court challenges could lead to a reversal the Roe v. Wade decision.
Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham said in April that the legislation reflects “the strong commitment that the people of Alabama have to life.”