While many of those concerned with reproductive rights focused on the so-called "heartbeat bills" that numerous states across the country have passed, Alabama has taken it step further. An Alabama bill banning nearly all abortions from conception and beyond passed the state Senate on Tuesday night, and if signed into law, it will be the most restrictive ban in the country.
The bill criminalizes the procedure for providers at any stage of pregnancy, according to The New York Times. Doctors who perform an abortion under almost any circumstance could receive felony charges and up to 99 years in prison; even an attempted abortion would put the medical provider at risk for up to 10 years in jail, per The Times.
The bill includes exceptions only for cases in which a pregnant woman's life would be at risk if she carried her pregnancy to term, and for fetuses that have lethal abnormalities, according to The Montgomery Advertiser. An earlier version of the bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee included exceptions for rape and incest survivors, but the final bill did not contain such exceptions, AL.com reports.
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey is generally an opponent of abortion, KFGO reports; however, she has not said whether or not she'll sign the bill into law. Even if she vetoes it, Alabama law allows the state legislature to override a gubernatorial veto with a simple majority, The Montgomery Adviser reports.
The debate in the state legislature over the bill became extremely heated. On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Bobby Singleton offered an amendment that would have allowed rape and incest survivors to have abortions, but it was defeated by Senate Republicans, who have a large majority in the chamber. In response, Singleton said that the Republicans who voted against it "should be put in jail," according to AL.com.
Alabama's legislation is almost certain to end up in court — and according to some of the bill's supporters, that's the idea.
"It simply criminalizes abortion," Republican Rep. Terri Collins, who co-sponsored the bill, told the Associated Press in April. "Hopefully, it takes it all the way to the Supreme Court to overturn [Roe v. Wade]."
The ACLU has already pledged to sue Alabama over the legislation, and although it's too soon to say how the courts will rule, recent history suggests that this poses a financial risk to the state. As AL.com noted, Alabama paid $1.7 million to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood after it passed an abortion law that was later deemed unconstitutional.
Moments after Alabama's state Senate passed this most recent abortion bill in a 25 to 6 vote, the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project's senior staff attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molin reaffirmed the organization won't stand for it. "We will not stand by while politicians endanger the lives of women and doctors for political gain," she wrote. "Know this, Governor Ivey: If you sign this dangerous bill into law, we will see you in Court." Similarly, Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen tweeted, "Doctors and public health leaders agree: the cost will be women’s lives."
The bill has one more step to go before becoming law, but it's clear the fight against it has already begun.