Alabama's "Worst-of-Its-Kind" Abortion Ban an Explicit Effort to Destroy Roe, Warn Rights Groups

In just the latest move that reproductive rights advocates warn is part of the prolonged effort to overturn Roe v. Wade, GOP state senators in Alabama sent what would be the nation’s most extreme abortion ban to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk late Tuesday.

“This unconstitutional measure would send women in the state back to the dark days of policymakers having control over their bodies, health, and lives.”
—Toni Van Pelt, NOW

This “worst-of-its-kind” bill, already approved by the Alabama House, would ban abortion at every stage of pregnancy and criminalize providing the procedure as a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison.

If the measure becomes law, the only exception under which a woman can terminate a pregnancy is if she faces a serious health risk. Most GOP senators rejected an amendment that would have added exceptions for rape and incest.

Lori Jhons, Ivey’s spokesperson, told The Associated Press “the governor intends to withhold comment until she has had a chance to thoroughly review the final version of the bill that passed,” but the vote tally suggests state lawmakers could easily override a veto.

The passage of this “dangerous” and “atrocious” legislation Tuesday provoked immediate outcry and vows to fight the measure from reproductive rights supporters nationwide.

“This unconstitutional measure would send women in the state back to the dark days of policymakers having control over their bodies, health, and lives,” warned Toni Van Pelt of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “We strongly oppose this bill and the other egregious pieces of legislation that extremist lawmakers are trying to pass in what they claim is an attempt to force the Supreme Court to overturn Roe.”

“Anti-choice Republicans no longer even pretend to respect the law or the women that it protects,” NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said in a statement. She also recalled the widespread opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, whom President Donald Trump appointed and the U.S. Senate approved to the Supreme Court last year.

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“When women stood up in record numbers to fight Kavanaugh’s nomination, propelled by his alarming record and Trump’s promise to nominate jurists committed to criminalizing abortion and punishing women, we were told we were ‘hysterical’ because Roe was settled law,” Hogue said. “Not six months later, we are battling measures where the stated goal is exactly that: outlawing abortion.”

The Very Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, interim president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, accused Republican lawmakers in Alabama of “playing games with people’s lives and their constitutionally-protected rights,” and called on Ivey to “put her constituents’ health and rights first and veto this bill.”

“We and our members will continue fighting,” Ragsdale added, “to ensure people needing access to abortion care are able to obtain the compassionate healthcare they need.”

Dr. Leana Wen, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, also promised her organization will challenge the “extreme and dangerous policy” that puts women’s lives at even greater risk.

“With a record number of extreme bans on abortion and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, our fundamental right to healthcare is under assault like never before,” Wen said. “We will do whatever it takes to stop this dangerous bill so that patients can continue to access the care they need. We are in for the fight of our lives, for our patients’ lives.” 

Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, said in statement that his group, “along with the National ACLU and Planned Parenthood, will file a lawsuit to stop this unconstitutional ban and protect every woman’s right to make her own choice about her healthcare, her body, and her future.”

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