With Eye on Supreme Court, Alabama House Passes Abortion Ban
By Abbey Crain
A bill making it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion passed in the Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday 74 to 3.
Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur said the goal of the bill is to bring the legislation to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to overturn Roe V. Wade and change the country's abortion laws. Sixty-six of 104 House members signed on as co-sponsors for the bill.
The bill would make it a Class A felony for a doctor to perform an abortion and a Class C felony for attempting to perform an abortion unless there is a serious health risk to the mother.
HB314 does not include any exceptions for instances of rape or incest, which has garnered criticism from both pro- and anti-abortion groups.
Rep. Anthony Daniels, D- Huntsville, asked Collins to amend the bill to make exceptions for rape and incest. Collins said she would not take any amendments to the bill because she wants the focus of the bill to be on overturning Roe. The amendment was tabled on a 72-26 vote.
Merika Coleman, the Assistant Minority Leader, suggested an amendment that would make legislators who vote for the bill pay for the the ultimate legal challengers the bill would incur with their own salaries. The amendment was tabled with a vote of 61-27.
"I don't know why you are standing there with that smirk on your face, [Rep. Teri Collins] when you are destroying so many ladies in this country," Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham said.
The bill was hotly debated for almost two hours before the final vote.
Rep. Louise Alexander, D-Bessemer asked Rep. Mike Jones, R- Andalusia, what he would do if either of his daughters were raped and became pregnant. He said he could not know what he would do unless he was faced with that reality, to which she said proved her point.
"Nobody knows what a woman goes through," Alexander said. "I know you don't because you're not a woman. You don't know why I would want to have an abortion. It could be because of my health, it could be for many reasons. My choice is important. I just want to say one thing. Until all of you walk in a woman's shoes, y'all don't know."
Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa compared abortion to murder.
"I believe that this chamber, this body will never make a greater decision that today I believe that with all my heart, protecting the life of an unborn child," Wingo said. "In Tuscaloosa, Alabama there are more murders, more abortions than anywhere in the state of Alabama. 3500 average per year take place right on River Road. There are more abortions in Tuscaloosa than there are births....Its time for Alabama to lead for once."
In 2017 there were 2,538 births in 2017 and 3,148 abortions at the West Alabama Women's Center. Pregnant people travel from all over the state to get to the Tuscaloosa clinic as it is one of three in Alabama.
Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham read from a poem "If My Vagina was a Gun," comparing the gun's rights debate to the debate of a woman's right to an abortion.
"We expected this vote to happen and we are ready for a fight in the Senate," said Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. "Today's floor debate made it crystal clear what Alabama lawmakers think about women. It also revealed just how callous and flagrant they can be."
The ACLU of Alabama has promised to fight the bill if passed. The state paid 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."
(c)2019 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham