‘Death sentence for women’: Alabama proposes law making abortion punishable by 99 years in prison | The Independent
Alabama is proposing a law that would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison.
The strict ban on abortion, described as a “death sentence for women”, would even criminalize the practice of abortions in cases of rape and incest.
The legislation, which Alabama politicians introduced on Tuesday, would only allow abortions where there is “a serious risk to the health of the mother of the unborn child.”
The bill also equates legalized abortion with some of the gravest atrocities in history – likening the termination of pregnancy to the Nazi campaign of extermination that led to the mass murders of Jews and others during the Holocaust.
The legislation says: “More than 50 million babies have been aborted in the United States since the Roe ruling in 1973, more than three times the number killed in German death camps, Chinese purges, Stalin’s gulags, the Cambodian killing fields and the combined Rwandan Genocide.
The bill, which has more than 60 co-sponsors in the 105-member Alabama House of Representatives, means a doctor would be slapped with a Class A felony if they were to perform an abortion. It would ban all abortions, even those using prescription drugs, once a woman is “known to be pregnant.”
“It just criminalizes abortion,” said Terri Collins, a Republican Representative who is the bill’s sponsor. “I hope it will take all the way to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade.”
Pressed to push for a measure which clearly conflicts with Supreme Court rulings, Ms Collins said “the goal is to get the courts to reconsider this issue”.
She said, “I think people see the possibility that the Supreme Court has a more conservative balance.”
Alarm bells have been sounded which Roe vs. Wade — the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 — could be overturned or drastically undermined by new conservative justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, called it “a death sentence for women in this state.”
She said: “These bans are blatantly unconstitutional and lawmakers know it – they just don’t care. Alabamians are just pawns in this political game to challenge access to safe and legal abortion nationwide.
Alabama is the latest Republican-leaning state to try to pass a strict abortion ban as conservatives aim Roe vs. Wade. Abortion opponents in other states have been encouraged to try to provoke new legal battles that could prompt Supreme Court justices to revisit the key case.
Alabama’s bill comes after Kentucky and Mississippi approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which occurs as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. At six weeks, many women still don’t know they are pregnant.
Other states, including Georgia and South Carolina, could enact similar bans.
The governor of Georgia is considering signing a law banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. More than 50 Hollywood actors, including Alyssa Milano, Alec Baldwin and Amy Schumer, sent a letter threatening to pull the cases out of Georgia, a focal point for TV and film production, if the ban is enacted.
A South Carolina House subcommittee passed a similar heartbeat bill on Tuesday.
Critics argue that Republicans are needlessly launching legal battles that will prove costly and futile – with taxpayers potentially footing the bill.
Rights organizations have accused the Trump administration of attacking women’s reproductive rights by reinstating the Global Gag Rule, which blocks federal funding for nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion counseling or referrals.
Activists also criticized the government for appointing anti-abortion rights activists to key positions in federal departments that deal with women’s health and for working to cut Title X funding to health providers who perform abortions or make abortion referrals.