What happens next with Alabama's near-total abortion ban
Democrats running for president in 2020 are condemning the Alabama Senate's move to ban almost all abortions, calling the restrictive legislation "outrageous" and "wrong."
The legislation — which could punish doctors who perform abortions with with up to 99 years in prison — still needs to be signed into law by the state's governor.
Here's what they're saying:
Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Kamala Harris
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper
Gov. Jay Inslee
Rep. Eric Swalwell
Alabama state Sen. Bobby Singleton, a Democrat, told CNN this morning that Alabama's abortion bill is "horrible."
"I think that we raped women last night. We made women of Alabama the model of the new Roe vs. Wade. I think this is a horrible bill," Singleton said.
The state's near-total abortion ban appears to set up an immediate fight over Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. However, Singleton said some members of the Republican party in Alabama believe in the components of this bill.
"You know, I would like to think that it's just for the purpose of Roe v. Wade, but, you know, there are some members on that side of the aisle who really believe sincerely in this," he said. "I asked to sponsor that just last night, you know, is that your intent to send doctors to jail for 99 years, or even for an attempted abortion up to 10 years in prison for attempt, not defining what an attempt is? But, you know, they just look me in my eyes with a stare as if, 'yes, thats what I want to do.'"
Singleton was referring to the part of the bill that would slap doctors with up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion.
Most American voters believe Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion, believe the decision should be upheld, according to a Fox News poll conducted in February.
Here are the key takeaways from that poll:
- Among registered voters, 57% say that Roe v. Wade should remain in place, according to the poll. That number even higher — 68% — among those familiar with the law,
- About 1 in 5 people polled, or 21%, say they would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned.
- However, there is a partisan divide on the question: 73% of Democrats and 43% among Republicans say they want the law to remain in place.
- But there is not a sharp gender divide: 59% of women and 54% of men feel Roe v. Wade should stand.
Alabama's near-total abortion ban as well as fetal heartbeat bills passed by several other states appear to set up an immediate fight over Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Keep in mind: Such direct challenges to the 1973 milestone are years from any Supreme Court hearing, and advocates on both sides are more urgently strategizing over the pending cases that would establish the terms for the eventual showdown.
Their target is Chief Justice John Roberts. Last year's retirement of centrist conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy landed Roberts at the ideological center of the reconstituted court. The 64-year-old George W. Bush nominee has backed laws that restrict access to abortion, but Roberts has also tried to preserve the institutional stature of the court.
Here's where the fight stands now: Dueling advocates are homing in on themes of precedent and regard for the court in the public eye. They are focusing on respect for — or rejection of — past decisions involving the right to end a pregnancy and looking to see how far Roberts and his conservative majority are willing to go.
After passing in both Alabama's House and Senate, the state's restrictive abortion bill now heads to the governor's desk.
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has six days to sign the legislation (though the bill would not take effect until six months after becoming law).
Where Ivey stands: She has not publicly taken a stance on the bill but has previously aligned herself as anti-abortion, lamenting the courts striking down another Alabama abortion law last year.
"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 spokesperson Lori Jhons said in a statement.
Alabama senators last night passed HB 314, which would slap doctors with up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. The Alabama House passed the bill earlier this month.
The law only allows these exceptions:
- "To avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother"
- For ectopic pregnancy
- If the "unborn child has a lethal anomaly."
Democrats had re-introduced an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims, but the motion failed on an 11-21 vote.
In passing the US's most restrictive abortion bill, Alabama lawmakers join legislators in several other states in putting forth legislation to restrict abortion, such as Georgia's recent fetal heartbeat bill.
About the Georgia bill: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp last week signed a bill that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — when many women don't yet know they're pregnant.
"(The bill) is very simple but also very powerful: a declaration that all life has value, that all life matters, and that all life is worthy of protection," Kemp, flanked by supporters of the bill, said before signing the legislation.
It's not just Georgia: Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill into law in March that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed similar legislation in April.
But many times such bills are held up in committees, rejected in legislative votes, vetoed by governors and struck down in courts. No state has been able to put a so-called heartbeat bill into lasting practice.
In January, an Iowa judge struck down that state's fetal heartbeat bill, declaring it unconstitutional. The US Supreme Court has previously declined to weigh in after lower courts blocked bills in North Dakota and Arkansas.