Alabama legislators introduced the most severe anti-abortion bill in the country on Tuesday that would ban abortions upon knowledge of pregnancy and make performing an abortion at any stage of a pregnancy a felony.
The bill, HB314, would ban all abortions as soon as a woman is “known to be pregnant,” only giving exception if the pregnancy is life-threatening to the woman. However, the bill does not give exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Home tests usually cannot detect pregnancy until about two weeks following conception. The bill already has over 60 co-sponsors in the 105-member Alabama House of Representatives. In addition, the text of the bill itself compares abortion in the country to atrocities such as the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, and Stalin’s gulags.
Rep. Terri Collins, the bill’s sponsor, stated that the bill was meant to challenge Roe v. Wade, saying “Hopefully, it takes it all the way to the Supreme Court to overturn (Roe versus Wade).” Collins noted that the bill actually uses the same language as the landmark decision, outright contradicting the Court’s rulings, which recognizes a woman’s right to an abortion until around 24 weeks.
“These bans are blatantly unconstitutional and lawmakers know it — they just don’t care. Alabamians are just pawns in this political game to challenge access to safe, legal abortion nationally,” said Staci Fox, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast. Pro-choice advocates have quickly criticized the bill, concerned that women’s health is being jeopardized for a long and futile legal battle.
In 2019 only, over 250 restrictive abortion bills have been introduced in state legislatures. Several states such as Kentucky and Mississippi have attempted to pass “heartbeat bills,” which would ban abortions as soon as the sixth week of pregnancy, before most women even know they are pregnant. Both states have already faced legal challenges, and a federal judge has blocked Kentucky’s law. Georgia and several other states are considering similar restrictive bills. Prior to 2019, only two states had enacted a six-week ban with both laws being struck down by the courts.
In addition, six states have also passed “trigger laws” that would automatically outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned and another eight states have introduced similar bills outlawing abortion.
Despite these restrictions, a Pew Research survey shows that 69% of Americans do not want Roe v. Wade overturned. Feminist activists are fighting every day to stop abortion restrictions at the state and federal levels and to protect family planning clinics that provide reproductive healthcare to some of the most vulnerable people in the United States.
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 1/22/18; Feminist Newswire 3/21/19; AP News 4/3/19; The Hill 4/2/19; HuffPost 4/2/19; CBS News 4/2/19