The Alabama Senate pushed through a draconian abortion bill, the most restrictive one of its kind in this country, to the governor’s desk on Tuesday night. The bill would call for doctors who perform abortions to be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison.
The law only allows exceptions “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother” or if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.”
When Democrats in the chamber attempted to reintroduce an amendment to make victims of rape and incest exempt, that was struck down on an 11-21 vote.
As CNN notes, Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, a Republican, will have six days to sign the bill, although the bill will not have effect until six months after being signed into law. Ivey has not announced any position on the bill publicly but has long identified as anti-abortion.
“As this legislation is still making its way through the legislative process, the governor intends to withhold comment until it makes its way to her desk for signature,” Ivey spokeswoman Lori Jhons said in a statement.
Republican State Sen. Clyde Chambliss claimed that the bill only impacts women who are “known to be pregnant” and would give “every female that’s pregnant or thinks they’re pregnant, and the male who was involved, it gives them that window of time — this bill does not change that window of time.”
That window of time that Chambliss referred to again on the Senate floor is between conception and when a woman knows for certain she’s pregnant, which Chambliss pinned at between seven and 10 days.
“She has to take a pregnancy test, she has to do something to know whether she’s pregnant or not,” he said.”You can’t know that immediately, it takes some time for all those chromosomes and all that.”
This is despite the fact that many women can’t know for certain that they’re pregnant, even at six weeks into pregnancy, which is the earliest that a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as CNN reports.
State Sen. Rodger Smitherman, a Democrat, questioned what would happen to a young incest victim who found out she was pregnant while under the constraints of the bill. Chambliss said that it was his hope the bill would lead to young women immediately seeking physical and mental help in light of abuse.
“What I hope is, if we 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,” Chambliss said.
“Then also they can get justice in the situation,” he added. “If they wait, justice delayed is justice denied.”
State Sen. Vivian Figures, another Democrat, told Chambliss that a victim’s trauma “is not your business.”
“You don’t have to raise that child, you don’t have to carry that child, you don’t have to provide for that child, you don’t have to do anything for that child,” she told Chambliss. “But yet you want to make that decision for that woman, that that’s what she has to do.”
Figures tried to introduce amendments that would make vasectomies a class A felony, expand Medicaid to reduce the bill’s impact on low-income women, and have legislators who backed the bill pay for the legal fees that will be accrued during the legal challenges that are sure to come. However, all those motions failed.