UPDATE: MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -
The state Senate on Tuesday passed the bill that would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony.
The bill now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey, who will decide whether to sign the legislation into law. The Republican has not said whether she supports the measure.
Senators voted 25-6 for the bill that already cleared the House of Representatives.
The bill contains an exception for when the pregnancy creates a serious health risk for the woman, but there is no exception for rape or incest.
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.
Critics have promised a swift lawsuit to challenge the ban if enacted.
Original Story: The Alabama Senate on Tuesday rejected a proposal to amend an abortion ban to include exceptions for rape and incest.
That measure was the only real drama during a debate on the legislation, which ultimately passed on a 25-6 vote, with one abstention.
If signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, the bill almost certain will run headlong into a court challenge.
That’s OK with the bill’s supporters. In fact, they’re counting on it.
“That’s the whole point of this bill, so that we can go directly to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe vs. Wade,” said Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville). “Because when they made that decision in 1973, 46 years ago, there was a lot that we didn’t know then that we know now.”
The bill would make it a felony to perform an abortion except when the mother’s health is at risk.
Knocking down Roe long has been the ultimate goal of anti-abortion activists, but the Supreme Court repeatedly has affirmed it.
With the confirmation last year of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, though, abortion opponents believe they may finally have the votes on the high court. That has helped trigger a flurry of legislation across the country to ban or restrict abortion.
The Alabama Senate debate turned theological at times. Chambliss noted that the best efforts of medical science sometimes fail to predict whether an unborn child will live after birth. He said legislators should trust in God.
“He has a plan,” he said. “I don’t understand the plan. Sometimes, it’s not fair.”
But Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) countered that, “We’re trying to put ourselves in the place of God.”
The Senate adopted the version passed by the House of Representatives that includes no exceptions in the case of rape and incest. Senators voted 21-11 against the amendment that would have added those exceptions. Four Republicans -- but none from the Mobile area -- joined the Democratic minority in that vote.
Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) harshly criticized his colleagues.
“You just aborted the state of Alabama, and all of you should be put in jail … You just raped Alabama with this bill,” he said.
The Senate was set to pass the bill in that form last week, but the proceedings descended into chaos when Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth appeared to gavel down an amendment to broaden exceptions before senators had a chance to vote on it.
Before passing the bill Tuesday, senators voted 24-6 to reject an amendment by Sen. Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) to require the law’s supporters to personally pay the cost of defending the statute in court. The state had to pay $1.7 million in legal fees to plaintiffs who challenged abortion restrictions passed by the Legislature several years ago.
“You’re gambling with taxpayer dollars,” Figures said.
The Senate also rejected an amendment by Figures to make it a felony for a man to have a vasectomy and an amendment to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Much of the debate focused on what Democrats characterized as the cruelty of forcing victims to carry pregnancies to term. Singleton introduced three rape victims in Senate gallery. Each had an abortion after the rape resulted in pregnancy, he said.
“Do you know what it’s like to be raped?” Figures asked Chambliss at one point. “Do you know what it’s like to have a family member commit incest on you?”