The Alabama state Senate on Tuesday gave final legislative approval to a bill that would ban nearly all abortions in the state and sets up a direct challenge to the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in America.
The bill, which earlier passed the Alabama State House, now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey, who had not publicly indicated if she will sign the bill.
Although Ivey identifies as pro-life, a spokeswoman said before Tuesday’s vote that “the governor intends to withhold comment until she has had a chance to thoroughly review the final version of the bill that passed,” according to the Associated Press.
The margins of passage — 25-6 in the Senate and 74-3 in the House — make it likely that a veto could be overridden. The bill makes performing an abortion a felony unless the mother’s health is at risk. Violators face a sentence of up to 99 years or life in prison, Fox News reported.
The bill targets the medical personnel performing abortions, but does not charge the woman having the abortion. The vote does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Passage drew wildly divergent reactions.
“It’s a sad day in Alabama,” said Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, a Democrat, CBS reported. “You just said to my daughter, you don’t matter, you don’t matter in the state of Alabama.”
Sen. Gillibrand on Alabama’s anti-abortion bill: “This is not something the American people support, 70% of Americans want safe, legal abortion to be available to women when they need it. They believe in women’s civil rights and human rights.” pic.twitter.com/xsMRqwlcUq
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 15, 2019
Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth later noted that Alabama is reacting to other states trying to increase access to abortion and said Alabama was defying the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.
“With liberal states approving radical late-term and post-birth abortions, Roe must be challenged, and I am proud that Alabama is leading the way,” Ainsworth tweeted Tuesday night.
Alabama’s state motto is “We Dare Defend Our Rights,” and today we have taken a strong step toward defending the rights of the unborn. With liberal states approving radical late-term and post-birth abortions, Roe must be challenged, and I am proud that Alabama is leading the way. pic.twitter.com/9femod4YTG
— Will Ainsworth (@willainsworthAL) May 15, 2019
Abortion supporters made it clear that courts will decide the bill’s ultimate fate.
“We will not stand by while politicians endanger the lives of women and doctors for political gain,” Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said.
“Know this, Governor Ivey: If you sign this dangerous bill into law, we will see you in Court.”
State Representative Terri Collins, a Republican, said the bill was designed to be a “direct attack” on Roe v. Wade and will hopefully lead to a new ruling when it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.
“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 during a debate in the Alabama House. “This bill addresses that one issue. Is that baby in the womb a person? I believe our law says it is.”
“I have prayed my way through this issue and this bill,” she said later.
Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, said the bill “simply recognizes that an unborn baby is a child who deserves protection,” noting that “despite the best efforts of abortion proponents, this bill will become law because Alabamians stand firmly on the side of life,” the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
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