By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers next week will debate one of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the nation, a measure that would make performing an abortion a felony with almost no exceptions.
The House Rules Committee put the bill on the House of Representatives’ debate schedule for Tuesday.
The legislation is purposely designed to directly conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Abortion opponents say their goal is to spark a court case that could lead the high court to revisit abortion rights.
“This is aimed to get them to please reconsider and look at that decision,” Collins said. “This bill addresses the issue of is a baby in the womb a person. … The Roe v. Wade decision was based that it is not a person.”
The bill would make performing an abortion a felony, punishable between 10 and 99 years in prison, although a woman would not be charged for having the procedure. The legislation contains an exemption when there is a serious risk to the mother’s health, but not for rape and incest.
Emboldened by new conservatives on the Supreme Court, abortion opponents in several states are seeking to incite new legal fights in the hopes of challenging Roe v. Wade. The Alabama bill comes on the heels of several states considering or approving bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which occurs in about the sixth week of pregnancy.
Opponents said the proposal is clearly unconstitutional and the legal fight would cost the state money that could be spent on other needs.
Staci Fox, the president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said Alabama lawmakers are “inserting themselves in the most personal, private decisions of Alabama’s women.”
“Time and time again, the courts have confirmed abortion bans are unconstitutional, which means that if passed, this bill will wind up at the center of an expensive legal battle, costing Alabama millions of dollars that it just doesn’t have,” Fox said.
Collins said the outlook for the bill is favorable considering it has more than 60 co-sponsors in the 105-member House.
Some Republicans have expressed discomfort that there is no exception for rape.
“I’ve always had a position on any pro-life bill that you have to take consideration of rape, incest and the health of the mother,” Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said.
Marsh said he had a “bit of a problem” that there was not an exemption and said he wanted to have a discussion with the bill’s sponsor about the direction of the legislation.
Collins said the goal of the bill is to try to spark a court case to challenge Roe.
She said lawmakers could come back and decide exemptions if the states regain authority over abortion. “That’s when we’ll address all those issues,” Collins said.