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Dems call for special session on abortion law; Ivey says no

By MADDISON BOOTH, Alabama Daily News

Two of Huntsville’s democratic state representatives, Anthony Daniels and Laura Hall, held a press conference on Sunday at the Madison County Courthouse to decry Alabama’s abortion law and call for changes.

Daniels, the House Minority Leader, began the conference by calling on Gov. Kay Ivey to hold a special legislative session for the purpose of repealing the 2019 abortion law, which went into effect in June when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“As men – as legislators – we should not be telling a woman what to do with her body,” Daniels said. “This is an issue that I’m not willing to ignore.”

He spoke about the fact that the current law makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, and though he said he offered an amendment on the House floor to make these exceptions before the bill was passed, it was voted down.

“The current law has far-reaching negative impacts on women in Alabama: socially, psychologically, and economically,” Rep. Hall said. 

She supported Daniels’ call for a special session, though Ivey’s office says that’s not going to happen. 

“There will not be a special session on the 2019 Alabama Human Life Protection Act,” Gina Maiola, Communications Director for Ivey’s office, said. “Governor Ivey has made her position on this clear, and that is that she wanted to see this 2019 law enacted.”

Daniels also noted Republicans’ support for the abortion law. “Standing tall for the unborn” was a major part of the House Republican Caucus’ agenda for the 2022 legislative session.

“I’ve not seen any action – anyone even discussing the issue or talking about wanting to go into session right away,” Daniels said of his Republican colleagues in the legislature.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl opposed the idea of a special session, saying Alabama is a “pro-life state.” 

“A special session to repeal Alabama’s pro-life laws would be incredibly disrespectful to the people of Alabama,” Wahl said. “They made their opinion clear with the state constitutional amendment passed in 2018.”

Wahl said Democrats should respect the ideas about abortion carried by the majority of the state’s citizens and “support the people of Alabama.”

Both Daniels and Hall brought up Alabama’s high infant and maternal mortality rates at the press conference.

The latest statistics from the state health department show that in 2016, 36 mothers died within a year of giving birth. The department found that in 42% of those deaths, mental health played a role. 

Daniels asked attendees at the conference to consider the impacts of having to carry a child to term on a woman’s mental health.

The state health department also reported in 2021 that Alabama’s infant mortality rate for 2020 was 7 deaths per 1,000 live births, which is still well-above the national average of 5.5 deaths in 2020.

“As a physician, I know without a doubt that people will die as a result of this law,” Dr. Sanithia Williams, OB/GYN at Alabama Women’s Wellness Center in Huntsville, said told the audience on Sunday. “Abortion care is normal, safe and essential healthcare. Receiving or providing this care should not be criminalized.”

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