On Tuesday evening, the Alabama State Senate passed House Bill 314, the “Human Life Protection Act,” which bans all abortions except if the mother’s life is in danger. No exceptions are made for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
If Republican governor Kay Ivey signs the bill, which passed in a vote of 25 to 6 and had already passed in the Alabama House, it will become law. Before the vote was taken, Alabama Sen. Clyde Chambliss opened the debate by saying, “When is a person a person? When does a life become a life? I believe that if we terminate the life of an unborn child, we are putting ourselves in God’s place.” Proponents of the bill hope to challenge Roe v. Wade with the bill.
The bill states that “a woman who receives an abortion will not be held criminally culpable or civilly liable for receiving the abortion.”
The bill explains what it means for the mother’s life to be considered in danger:
In reasonable medical judgment, the child’s mother has a condition that so complicates her medical condition that it necessitates the termination of her pregnancy to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function. This term does not include a condition based on a claim that the woman is suffering from an emotional condition or a mental illness which will cause her to engage in conduct that intends to result in her death or the death of her unborn child.
However, the condition may exist if a second physician who is licensed in Alabama as a psychiatrist, with a minimum of three years of clinical experience, examines the woman and documents that the woman has a diagnosed serious mental illness and because of it, there is reasonable medical judgment that she will engage in conduct that could result in her death or the death of her unborn child.
Although the bill states that an “abortion performed in violation of this act is a Class A felony and an attempted abortion performed in violation of this act is a Class C felony,” it also states, “This act shall not apply to a physician licensed in Alabama performing a termination of a pregnancy or assisting in performing a termination of a pregnancy due to a medical emergency as defined by this act.”
Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth expressed his approval after the bill passed, tweeting, “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.”
Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, threatened Ivey in an email to CBS News, writing, “We will not stand by while politicians endanger the lives of women and doctors for political gain. Know this, Governor Ivey: If you sign this dangerous bill into law, we will see you in Court.”
Representative Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill, made it clear last week the intention of the bill was indeed to challenge Roe v. Wade, asserting, “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. This bill addresses that one issue. Is that baby in the womb a person? I believe our law says it is.” After the bill passed Tuesday night, she stated, “This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection. I have prayed my way through this bill. This is the way we get where we want to get eventually.”