Alabama's abortion bill turns into law
Decision evokes outrage among many, including Hollywood celebs, who called it "an attack on women's rights"
Montgomery: Alabama's Republican governor has signed the most stringent abortion legislation in the nation, making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases. "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," Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement.
The bill's sponsors want to give conservatives on the US Supreme Court a chance to gut abortion rights nationwide, but Democrats and abortion rights advocates criticised the bill as a slap in the face to women voters. "It just completely disregards women and the value of women and their voice. We have once again silenced women on a very personal issue," said Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, a Birmingham Democrat. The abortion ban is set to go into effect in six months, but is expected to face a lawsuit to block it from halting abortion access.
'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' Kay Ivey, Albama governor
Coleman-Madison said she hopes the measure awakens a "sleeping giant" of women voters in the state. But Republican pollster Chris Kratzer noted that there is no congressional district and likely no legislative district with enough swing voters to put Republicans at serious risk in the state. "The people who are outraged about this are not the people who are electing these guys, generally speaking, especially when we're talking about the primary," he said. The law would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years of life in prison for the provider. The only exception would be when the woman's health is at serious risk.
Women seeking or undergoing abortions wouldn't be punished. Rep Terri Collins, the bill's sponsor, said she believes the measure reflects the beliefs of the majority of the state electorate. The vote came after 59 per cent of state voters in November agreed to write anti-abortion language in the Alabama Constitution, saying the state recognizes the rights of the "unborn." Ivey acknowledged on Wednesday that the measure may be unenforceable in the short term. Even supporters have said they expect it to be blocked by lower courts as they fight toward the Supreme Court. Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia recently have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy.
Outrage among advocates
Abortion rights advocates have, however, vowed swift legal action. "We haven't lost a case in Alabama yet and we don't plan to start now. We will see Governor Ivey in court," said Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast. Evangelist Pat Robertson said the Alabama law is "extreme" and opined it may not be the best one to bring to the US Supreme Court in the hopes of overturning Roe "because I think this one will lose."
Dr Yashica Robinson, who provides abortions in Huntsville, said her clinic fielded calls from frightened patients. Hollywood celebrities Lady Gaga, Ava DuVernay, Cynthia Nixon and Chris Evans, among others, came together to raise their voice against the near-total abortion ban bill, signed into legislation, calling it "unconstitutional" and an "attack on women's fundamental rights."
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