Alabama sent the most restrictive abortion bill in the country to date to the governor's desk Tuesday night, with the state's Senate passing legislation that could punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison.
Democrats, who hold eight seats in the 35-member Senate, alternately criticizing the proposed abortion ban as an attempt to control women and a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Republican Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said in an interview before the vote that the debate was about the idea of "personhood" and whether a fetus has rights from the outset. "You don't have to do anything for that child, yet you want to make that decision for that woman", Democratic Sen.
The sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Terri Collins (R), said she has empathy for survivors of rape and incest.
Although the bill passed the House of Representatives 74-3, some GOP state senators have expressed discomfort that the bill doesn't include an exception for rape. What the Senate is fighting over is a proposed amendment that would allow abortion after rape or incest. Many women, according to the CDC, won't know they are pregnant for four to six weeks, meaning that by the time they've learned they are, it's too late to obtain an abortion, especially if the woman lives in a state that requires a waiting period.
"To take that choice away from that person who had such a traumatic act committed against them, to be left with the residue of that person if you will, to have to bring that child into this world and be reminded of it every single day", Figures said. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has not said whether she will sign it, and said she was waiting for a final version of the bill. It criminalizes the procedure, reclassifying abortion as a Class A felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors.
The legislation will take effect six months after Governor Ivey gives the bill her signature.
The Alabama Senate passed a bill Tuesday evening to ban almost all abortions. "You've got 27 men over on the other side ready to tell women what they can do with their bodies", he said.
Sen. Vivian Figures (D) introduced a series of amendments, with one requiring lawmakers who voted yes on the bill to pay for any legal fees the bill might cause - it would nearly certainly draw immediate legal challenges - and another to make vasectomies a felony, noting that there are no laws regulating what a man can do with his body.
"We are already preparing a complaint", said Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.