Hours after a shouting match forced the Alabama state Senate to delay a vote on legislation that would effectively serve as a near-total ban on abortion, the state's Republican lieutenant governor spoke out in favor of the bill, urging lawmakers to pass it. What's more, Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said Alabama's latest abortion ban is intended to challenge Roe v. Wade.
"It is important that we pass this statewide abortion ban legislation and begin a long overdue effort to directly challenge Roe v. Wade," Ainsworth said in a statement released Thursday. "Now that President Donald Trump has supercharged the effort to remake the federal court system by appointing conservative jurists who will strictly interpret the Constitution, I feel confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe and finally correct its 46-year-old mistake."
Ainsworth's comments appear to confirm abortion rights advocates' fears that Trump has emboldened conservative state legislators to pass increasingly restrictive abortion bills in an attempt to challenge Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized abortion. During the 2016 presidential debates, Trump described himself as "pro-life" and vowed to nominate Supreme Court justices who were committed to overturning Roe v. Wade, CNBC has reported.
According to The Washington Post, Alabama state legislators are currently considering legislation that would effectively serve as a near-total ban on abortion in the state by barring doctors from performing abortions after a fetus is "in utero." In fact, should the Human Life Protection Act be passed into law, Alabama would have the most restrictive abortion law in the country, the paper reported.
Under the Human Life Protection Act, performing an abortion and attempting to provide an abortion would become felony crimes except in cases where necessary to prevent "a serious health risk" to the woman. The bill establishes, however, that women who receive an abortion would not be held criminally culpable or civilly liable under the law. Rather the bill seeks to punish abortion providers with at least 10 years in prison.
Despite objection from Alabama's Democratic lawmakers, the state's latest anti-abortion bill is expected to pass when the Senate reconvenes for another vote next week, The Washington Post reported. It comes less than a year after voters in Alabama approved legislation amending the state's constitution to recognize and support "the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life."
On Thursday, Ainsworth said he was "proud" of the way his state was leading the fight to "protect unborn life." "By ratifying a constitutional amendment declaring Alabama a pro-life state, offering generous tax incentives to families who adopt, and pushing legislation that gives a voice to the voiceless, I am proud that Alabamians are leading the nation in protecting unborn life," his statement read.
But Ainsworth isn't the only lawmaker to have described the state's latest anti-abortion bill as an attempt to challenge abortion rights on a national level. According to The Washington Post, Republican state Rep. Terri Collins, the bill's sponsor, has also said the bill is an attempt to spur a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade.