Alabama Abortion Law Could Jail Doctors Up to 99 Years, Same As Murderers and Rapists

May 16, 2019 Updated: May 20, 2019

The rights of unborn babies have just been given a huge boost, with nearly all abortions carried out in the state of Alabama becoming a crime—except under extenuating circumstances.

The bill was passed in the state Senate on May 14 and was signed into law one day later by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey. According to bill doctors, performing abortion will face imprisonment from 10 to 99 years, the same as faced by rapists and murderers.

State governments from the Midwest and Deep South are on a roll to wipe out access to abortions, as at least 61 states have introduced bills to ban abortions, with Alabama having the strictest ban.

“For pro-life folks, these are huge victories,” Sue Liebel, state director for anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, told the AP. “And I think they’re indicative of the momentum and excitement and the hope that’s happening with changes in the Supreme Court and having such a pro-life president.”

The governor said in a statement: “Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act. To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious & that every life is a sacred gift from God.”

She further added: “In all meaningful respects, this bill closely resembles an abortion ban that has been a part of Alabama law for well over 100 years. As today’s bill itself recognizes, that longstanding abortion law has been rendered ‘unenforceable as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.’”

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On May 14, 25 Alabama senators voted to pass the bill for abortion to become a criminal offense, including abortion after cases of rape and incest. The exception of the law (pdf) will be only if the woman’s health is seriously at risk by continuing the pregnancy.

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Under the new legislation, abortion is illegal at any stage of pregnancy, and doctors performing the procedure could be charged with felonies and face between 10 and 99 years of imprisonment. However, women seeking abortions will not be punished by the law. According to CNN, this law falls under Case A felony which is the highest level in Alabama. There are some other felonies that also fall into this category such as first-degree rape, first-degree murder, first-degree arson, and more.

Other states, such as Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Georgia, have recently banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Illustration – Shutterstock | fizkes

The bill had passed the Alabama House at the end of April after Republican state Rep. Terri Collins, the House sponsor of the bill, voted along with six other women to pass the bill, with an overwhelming majority. Most Democratic House members had refused to vote and walked out in protest.

“I’ve answered many emails from people who have poured out their hearts with real stories,” Collins told AL.com. “My goal with this bill is not to hurt them in any way. My goal with this bill, and I think all of our goals, is to have Roe v. Wade turned over, and that decision be sent back to the states so that we can come up with our laws that address and include amendments and things that address those issues.”

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The ban will take effect in six months but is expected to face a lawsuit to block it taking away a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. CNN reported that groups like Planned Parenthood and American Civil Liberties Union will challenge the bill in court.

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