Alabama passes bill that would make abortion a felony with potential 99-year prison sentence

The bill does not make exceptions for victims of rape and incest 

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Wednesday 01 May 2019 22:38
Alabama proposes law to make abortion punishable by up to 99 years in prison

Alabama’s House of Representatives has approved an abortion ban which, if signed into law, would make abortion a felony.

On Tuesday, Alabama politicians voted 74 to 3 to pass the “Human Life Protection Act”, legislation that has been called a “direct attack” on Roe v Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion.

Under HB 314, which does not make exceptions for victims of rape or incest, abortion would be a Class A felony and carry a maximum prison sentence of 99 years for doctors performing the procedure.

Attempted abortion would also be illegal and punishable with a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

During the vote, CBS News reports nearly all Democratic members of the House walked out of the chamber in protest after an amendment that would have added an exception for victims of rape and incest was tabled.

A proposed amendment that would see the salaries of Alabama lawmakers who vote in favour of the bill being used to fund subsequent lawsuits contesting the abortion ban was also rejected.

All Republican members of the House voted in favour of the bill except for two, who did not vote.

Prior to the vote, the bill’s sponsor Representative Terri Collins said: “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.

“This bill addresses that one issue. Is that baby in the womb a person? I believe our law says it is.”

In addition to proposing a near-total ban on abortion, the legislation also includes offensive language comparing the number of lives lost in the Holocaust to the number of abortions that have occurred since Roe v Wade, according to CBS.

Following the vote, HB 314 will now move to the Senate, where Alabama Republicans also hold a majority.

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama (ACLU) expressed disappointment with the state’s decision to pass the bill and made it clear it would sue if the bill is signed into law.

“One of the previous lawsuits against legislation restricting access to abortion cost the state $1.7m in attorney fees,” the ACLU wrote.

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According to the Guttmacher Institute, Alabama already has some of the country's strictest abortion restrictions, under which a woman is required to receive state-directed counselling and then wait 48 hours before receiving the procedure.

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