Alabama abortion ban proves that state Republican senators are not pro-life or even pro-living, they're just pro-birth
The Republican-controlled Senate voted Wednesday to approve the 'Human Life Protection Act' which challenges the US Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling
The Alabama Senate passed what is in effect the most restrictive abortion law in the country this past week.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted Wednesday to approve the 'Human Life Protection Act' which challenges the US Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
The bill, which sailed through the House without any hiccups two weeks ago, went much farther than the four states — Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio — which have passed so-called 'fetal heartbeat' laws that outlaw most abortions at six weeks — which is when the fetus' heartbeat can be first detected in most cases.
Alabama's 'Human Life Protection Act' criminalizes all abortions and classifies them as a Class A felony. However, the woman who undergoes the abortion will not be the one to suffer the penalty, but the doctor who carries out the abortion will. The doctor could face anywhere between 10 to 99 years in prison. It also classified attempted abortions as a Class C felony.
While the law will still allow for women to have abortions when their health is at serious risk, the Senate rejected by a 21-11 vote an amendment introduced last week by Republican Sen. Tom Whatley that would also make exceptions for rape or incest.
That particular amendment had already proved to be quite contentious and resulted in a shouting match between senators on its introduction. They did eventually agree to rediscuss it this past Tuesday, but there was yet another outburst after it was voted down once again, with only four Republicans joining the Democrats in supporting it.
"You just aborted and you raped the state of Alabama," Sen. Minority Leader Bobby Singleton screamed after the vote. "All of you should be put in jail for this abortion that you just laid on the state of Alabama. This is just a shame. This is a disgrace. It is a travesty."
"You just raped every little girl," he continued yelling during his remarkable tirade. "You just raped every woman who’s been raped by a man. You just raped them all over again. Yes, I said it, and I hope your conscience is eating your head up. I hope it’s eating you bad."
Alabama is one of the few states which does not automatically terminate the parental rights of rapists as well, which means that in the case where a victim of rape is forced to bear her rapist's child, she won't be able to put the child up for adoption until the rapist signs away his rights.
The rape and incest exception wasn't the only amendment introduced to the floor, however. In a bid to filibuster the bill, Democrats proposed a string of other amendments which were all overwhelmingly defeated.
These included ones which would make Republicans who voted for the bill pay the state’s attorney’s fees and one that would make a man who has a vasectomy guilty of a class A felony.
While these were undeniably made in protest, there were also others aimed at helping women who would be forced to give birth if abortions were criminalized.
These amendments asked that the state expand Medicaid eligibility and provide women forced to have children with prenatal and medical care until the child reached the age of 13. But they were shot down as well.
Eventually, after more than 4.5 hours of arguments, the Senate voted to end the debate and vote on the bill. As expected, there was little those in opposition could do to prevent its passing.
The bill was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey on May 15, who hailed it as a "powerful testament to Alabamians' deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God."
But a closer look at the details seems to suggest that such a sentiment is hopelessly misplaced.
Numerous reports have highlighted the plight of children in the state which not only has the second-highest infant mortality rate in the country but is also the sixth poorest.
More than a quarter of children in Alabama live in poverty, of which a startling 30% are under the age of five. The food insecurity rate amongst children is 22.5%, which is alarming in comparison to the national average of 17.5%.
Furthermore, only half of the state's 67 counties have an obstetrician, and amongst its rural hospitals, 88% are operating under heavy losses. Despite this and support from the Alabama Hospital Association, Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act was rejected.
Infant care for a single child in Alabama takes up an average of 11% of a family's income, which is unfeasible, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determining that child care costs are unaffordable when they exceed 7% of a family’s income.
Single mothers in Alabama, on average, have to spend 29% of their income on childcare costs, and they are not helped by the fact that there is absolutely no maternity leave or family leave laws in the state whatsoever.
The ban is unlikely to go into effect anytime soon, or possibly ever.
Its own supporters, including Ivey, acknowledged publicly that the bill was unconstitutional and a deliberate attempt to prove a lawsuit which would see the US Supreme Court revisit the matter and, hopefully, overturn Roe v. Wade.
As its critics rightly pointed out, this has meant that millions of taxpayer dollars which could have been used to address the state's failing schools, healthcare and prisons, have instead been splurged on passing bills that will almost certainly be struck down by federal and state courts before it even reaches the Supreme Court.