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Alabama’s Republican governor has signed the nation’s strictest abortion ban into law, making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases, punishable by up to life in prison, and with no exceptions for rape and incest.
Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement that the law she signed Wednesday “stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
The law faces certain legal challenges on a journey to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Republicans hope President Donald Trump’s appointees will reverse Roe v. Wade and criminalize abortion nationwide.
Evangelist Pat Robertson is among those who think it’s a mistake, calling the Alabama law too “extreme” and not the best vehicle for overturning the precedent set by the Supreme Court in 1973.
“I think this one will lose,” he said on his television show Wednesday. But “God bless them, they are trying to do something,” he added.
Ivey acknowledged in her signing statement that the law was crafted specifically to give the Supreme Court’s conservative majority a chance to gut abortion rights nationwide.
The abortion ban would go into effect in six months if it isn’t blocked by legal challenges. But Democrats and pro-abortion advocates call it a slap in the face to women.
“It just completely disregards women and the value of women and their voice. We have once again silenced women on a very personal issue,” state Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, a Birmingham Democrat, said.
Coleman-Madison said she hopes the measure awakens a “sleeping giant” of women voters in the state.
But Republican pollster Chris Kratzer noted that there is no congressional district and likely no legislative district in Alabama with enough swing voters to put Republicans at serious risk.
“The people who are outraged about this are not the people who are electing these guys, generally speaking, especially when we’re talking about the primary,” he said.
Kratzer also argued that there aren’t enough potential swing voters and disenchanted Republicans to make the issue any kind of advantage for the lone Democrat elected to statewide office, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who scored a surprise win in a 2017 special election.
The legislation Alabama senators passed Tuesday would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison for the provider.
There is no exception for pregnancies resulting for rape and incest. The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk. Women seeking or undergoing abortions wouldn’t be punished.
The law’s sponsor, Rep. Terri Collins, said she believes a majority of Alabamians support it: 59 percent of state voters in November agreed to write anti-abortion language in the Alabama Constitution, saying the state recognizes the rights of the “unborn.”
“It’s to address the issue that Roe. v. Wade was decided on. Is that baby in the womb a person?” Collins said.
Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia recently approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy.
Missouri’s Republican-led Senate voted early Thursday to ban abortions at eight weeks, with no rape or incest exceptions. Louisiana lawmakers have been speeding toward passing a six-week ban.
The Alabama bill goes further by seeking to ban abortion outright, and pro-abortion advocates vowed swift legal action.
“We haven’t lost a case in Alabama yet and we don’t plan to start now. We will see Governor Ivey in court,” Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said.