Alabama House passes abortion bill

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House is one step closer to making almost all abortions in the state illegal Tuesday by strongly voting in favor of a bill that looks to challenge the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The bill passed 74-3 and would make getting an abortion at any stage in a women’s pregnancy a Class A felony. Greater Valley Area representatives Bob Fincher, R-Wedowee, and Debbie Wood, R-Valley, voted in favor of the bill.

According to multiple reports, after a debate, Democrats in opposition of the bill walked out of the chamber before the vote was taken. The bill will now move onto the Alabama Senate.

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Fincher called the bill a “test bill” Wednesday, saying it is meant to undo Roe V. Wade. He said it was passed because the Republican Party opposed abortion.

“Abortion is generally used in this country as a form of birth control after the fact,” he said. “It is something that we can’t live with.”

Wood said there was a lot of tension in the state capitol but now Alabama has a chance to fight the historic court case.

“I feel like it was a good day for life,” she said. “I really feel like — and some people won’t — that it was a good day for women and definitely a good day for children that couldn’t fight for themselves.”

Wood said there are always consequences the actions of people and some last longer than others.

“If you take a life, regardless if it is somebody standing in front of you or a baby, those emotional scars are with you forever,” she said.

If this bill passes the Senate, it would make abortion a Class A felony, which is punishable by no less than 10 years in prison and no more than 99 years. An attempted abortion would be considered a Class C felony, which is punishable by no less than one year in prison and no more than 10 years.

The bill bans abortion at any stage of pregnancy, except in extreme situations where there is a serious risk to the mother’s health. Democrats in the House attempted to add an amendment in the bill that would make exemptions for conception brought on by rape and incest, but it was tabled.

The bill comes after several states, including Georgia, approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically in about the sixth week of pregnancy.

Fincher said the exceptions have been discussed, but they are being put off to maintain the “purity of the legislation” and to fight against the Supreme Court case.

“The basic statement is that taking the life of a fetus is tantamount to murder. You’re killing a living being,” he said. “The circumstances of that are set pretty high.”

He said he believes those exceptions will be taken into consideration again at a later date.

Wood also said she is certain those exceptions will be added in later, but for now, the state must stand strong. She added she isn’t trying to take away a women’s choice. 

“What I tried to do is take care of a life that has no one else to take care of it,” she said.

The ACLU of Alabama testified two weeks ago in the House Health Committee to make sure lawmakers knew that the ACLU would sue if the bill was passed. According to the ACLU, one of the previous lawsuits against legislation restriction access to abortion cost a state $1.7 million in attorney fees.

“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,” a news release from the Alabama ACLU said. “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.”