Alabama lawmakers look to overturn Roe with abortion ban

Bill Whatcott and a friend protest abortion in this photo uploaded to Facebook on Dec. 15, 2016.
Bill Whatcott and a friend protest abortion in this photo uploaded to Facebook on Dec. 15, 2016. | (Photo: Whatcott)

A bill that would make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion, including cases of rape and incest, overwhelmingly passed in the Alabama House Tuesday, 74-3.

The bill which was co-sponsored by more than half of the 104 members of the Republican dominated House was designed to challenge and overturn Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court, Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur said, according to

"The heart of this bill is to confront a decision that was made by the courts in 1973 that said the baby in a womb is not a person," Collins declared.

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If the bill becomes law, it would be a Class A felony for a doctor to perform an abortion and a Class C felony for attempting to perform an abortion. The only exemption under the bill is if there is a serious health risk to the mother.

The controversial bill was approved after more than two hours of emotional debate in the House. Collins, said NBC News, acknowledged that the bill will likely be struck down in lower courts but the aim is to take it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Democrat representatives who walked off the House floor ahead of the vote called the bill extreme and fiscally irresponsible.

"You don't know why I may want to have an abortion. It may be because of my health. It may be because of many reasons. Until all of you in this room walk in a woman's shoes, y'all don't know," Rep. Louise Alexander, a Democrat, said, arguing that the choice to give birth should be left to a woman.

"They would not even allow an exception for rape and incest. ... What does that say to the women in this state," House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said.

Collins noted, however, that adding exemptions would weaken the intent of the bill to challenge Roe v. Wade. If states regain the ability to decide abortion access, Alabama lawmakers may renegotiate the exemptions, she said.

"All the things that were brought up today, I’m not saying aren’t valid and have meaning," she said. "I’m just saying for the purpose of this law, I wanted to keep it just what the issue was."

Staci Fox, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, which operates clinics in Birmingham and Mobile, told the Montgomery Advertiser in a statement that they would fight the bill.

“We expected this vote to happen and we are ready for a fight in the Senate," the statement said. "Today’s floor debate made it crystal clear what Alabama lawmakers think about women." 

The ACLU of Alabama has also pledged to fight the bill. Alabama had to pay the ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood $1.7 million in 2016 after a law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges was ruled unconstitutional.

“We are disappointed that the Alabama House passed HB314 despite the fact it would criminalize abortion and interfere with a woman’s personal, private medical decisions. It is unfortunate that members of the House are putting their personal beliefs ahead of what’s in the best interest of our state. The people of Alabama are paying the bill for unconstitutional legislation and we hope that the Senate members will realize its detrimental impact and stop this bill from becoming law. Otherwise it will be challenged in federal court,” the organization said.

Ryan Bomberger, black co-founder of the pro-life Radiance Foundation who was conceived during the rape of his mother, praised the move in a tweet Wednesday.

“Go 'Bama! House overwhelmingly passes bill to end violence of abortion, with NO exceptions. "I believe this chamber, this body, will never make a greater decision than today...protecting the life of an unborn child." #GOP Rep. Rich Wingo. #AbortRoe,” he wrote.

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