5 things to know about Alabama's anti-abortion law — the Human Life Protection Act

Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the bill, that could punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison. The law puts a stop to abortions at every stage of pregnancy and doctors who perform it could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison


                            5 things to know about Alabama's anti-abortion law — the Human Life Protection Act

Amidst backlash from women's rights activists, Alabama state passed its controversial anti-abortion bill as a law. Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the bill, that could punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison. The law puts a stop to abortions at every stage of pregnancy and doctors who perform it could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. This act will be known as The Alabama Human Life Protection Act. 

"Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature," said Ivey, a Republican, in a statement after signing the bill. "To the bill's many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians' deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God," she said.

This photograph released by the state shows Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signing a bill that virtually outlaws abortion in the state on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala. Republicans who support the measure hope challenges to the law will be used by conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion nationwide. (Hal Yeager/Alabama Governor's Office via AP)

The purpose of the bill is to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the House Bill 314 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," Collins said. "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."

Here's everything you need to know about the law: 

Who does it apply to? 

The law will apply to nearly all abortions and only doctors who perform the procedure. The women who get an abortion will not be affected. "A woman who receives an abortion will not be held criminally culpable or civilly liable for receiving the abortion," the law says. 

However, performing the abortion would make it a Class A felony and the law makes attempting to perform it a Class C felony. The resulting penalty for an attempted abortion under the new law would be a prison sentence of one to 10 years. The anti-abortion law also applies to cases of rape and/or incest.  

What are the exceptions?

The anti-abortion law, that has been deemed "unconstitutional" by many doesn't apply only when there's a medical emergency for the mother. However, the situation has to be confirmed in writing by another doctor.

"An abortion shall be permitted if an attending physician licensed in Alabama determines that an abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother. Except in the case of a medical emergency as defined herein, the physician's determination shall be confirmed in writing by a second physician licensed in Alabama," the law states. The confirmation has to be given within 180 days after the abortion is completed and shall be prima facie evidence for a permitted abortion.

The law also says that the physician confirming the "serious health risk to the child's mother" will not be criminally or civilly liable for those actions.

Is it different from Georgia's Fetal Heartbeat law?

The Alabama anti-abortion law is actually more restrictive than the one Georgia has.

Unlike the Fetal Heartbeat law, that allows abortions up until six weeks of pregnancy which is the time that a heartbeat can be detected in the womb, Alabama's law bans it altogether, except for medical emergencies where the mother's life is in danger. Mississippi, Ohio, and Kentucky have all passed similar laws that ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected like Georgia did last week. 

When does it come into effect?

This act shall become effective six months following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law, the bill states. 

Who would it affect most?

According to reports, it will be the women who belong to minorities, Latinos and Black women and the poorer classes of the society who will be most affected. Democratic state senator Linda Coleman-Madison, one of the bill's critics, said, "We want abortions to be safe, and we want them to be few, but it should be legal because there will be abortions. The people who have the wherewithal will fly out of state. Not everyone can afford to do that."