The Alabama legislature just passed one of the most restrictive pieces of abortion legislation in the country, making it a felony for a physician to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if there is a detectable fetal heartbeat. Abortions performed beyond this unreasonable window of time are only legal when the pregnancy puts the mother or the fetus in a life-threatening circumstance, or if there are fatal abnormalities in the fetus; no exceptions will be given to victims of rape or incest.
All 25 Republicans in the Alabama Senate voted to pass the legislation, while all six Democrats voted against the proposal. In order to be passed into law, the bill simply awaits the signature of Republican Governor Kay Ivey. It will go into effect six months after the bill is signed, after which doctors performing abortions in the state will face Class A felony charges that can land them in prison for life. Physicians attempting abortions will also face felony charges.
Many of the republican legislators who voted for the bill expressed sympathy for pregnant women or children in cases of rape and incest, but they ultimately pulled together along party lines to pass the legislation with the goal of getting the case to the Supreme Court. There, they hope, it will ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. State Representative Terry Collins, a sponsor of the bill, explained that there could be no exceptions for rape or incest because that would threaten the ultimate goal of a federal abortion overhaul. “It has to be 100% a person at conception,” she told the Washington Post. She admitted that she believes that exceptions should ultimately be made in cases of rape and incest.
Like other restrictive bills that have been passed or are awaiting passage around the nation, the new legislation dictates that a pregnancy cannot be terminated once a heartbeat is medically detectable, which for all intents and purposes restricts abortion altogether. Most women who are pregnant are unaware of this by the time a heartbeat can be detected in an ultrasound, an event that can happen within a week or two of a missed period.
It’s beyond preposterous to expect a pregnant young victim of sexual abuse to be aware of whether they are carrying the baby of their abuser in this brief window of time, but per CNN, State Senator Clyde Chambliss insisted that the legislation gives women, and children, ample time to seek an abortion. “What I hope is, if you pass this bill, that all young ladies would be educated by their parents, their guardians that should a situation like this occur, you need to go get help — you need to do it immediately,“ he explained prior to the vote, when posed with the hypothetical, nightmare scenario of a pregnant, young, sexual abuse victim. You know, because people who don’t report abuse are simply not educated enough to take care of these things as they happen. As if to ensure that victims promptly relive their trauma, Chambliss continued, “Then also they can get justice in this situation. If they wait, justice delayed is justice denied.”