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House Passes Bill to Criminalize Abortion

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama House of Representatives approved on Tuesday legislation to criminalize almost all abortions performed in Alabama.

Seventy-four Republican House members voted for the bill, and three Democrats voted against it. Many other Democrats had already left the chamber in protest when the vote was taken.

House Bill 314 makes performing an abortion a Class A felony, but women who seek or have abortions would not be criminally liable. The only exceptions in the bill are if there is a serious health risk to the woman or if the fetus has a “lethal anomaly.”

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Bill sponsor Rep. Terri Collins, R- Decatur, said the bill is designed as a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, to redefine when life begins.

“When I was pregnant with my first child, my grandmother went with me to have the ultrasound,” Collins said on the House floor while introducing the bill. “When we saw that little hand on the screen, we waved at it because we knew it was a person,”

“Is that baby in the womb a person? I believe our [state] law says it is, and our people say it is, and our technology says it is,” Collins said.

There is no exception for rape or incest in Collins’ bill. An amendment to add those exemptions was offered by the House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D- Huntsville, but was tabled by Republicans.

Attempting to perform an abortion would be a Class C felony, punishable with one to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Several groups have said they will sue to stop the law if it’s enacted.

Rep. Merika Coleman, D- Birmingham, offered an amendment that would make any expenses incurred by the state for court challenges to the bill deductible from the pay of legislators who voted for the bill.

“If you believe in this piece of legislation so much, then put your money where your mouth is,” Coleman said. “Don’t have the taxpayers foot an additional bill, they already pay your salaries. Put your money where your mouth is.”

The amendment was rejected.

Coleman said she does supports life too, but thinks this bill is only protecting birth.

“There are some people who just support birth, not life, because after a child is born there needs to be more done to ensure that child has a happy and successful life,” Coleman said.

The bill passed amid a frenzied State House. House Democrats at first worked to delay the flow of legislation to prevent the bill from coming up, and later staged a walk-out to protest the bill.

Activists opposing the bill were removed from the House gallery after attempting to paint the word “dumb” on the glass separating the seats from the chamber. At least one protester was arrested.

Last year, Alabama voters approved a constitutional amendment declaring the policy of Alabama is “to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life ….” It also says it is the policy of the state “to ensure the protection of the rights of the unborn child in all manners and measures lawful and appropriate.” The measure passed with 59 percent support.

Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, said that he supports the bill and that there may be exceptions to the law added later for cases of rape or incest.

“We want this bill to be as clean as possible so it will get before the court without any complications,” Wood said. “We can always go back and add those exceptions later.”

Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston, said she believes the Legislature should address health care and other issues rather than abortion.

“We are about four weeks away from the end of the (legislative session),” Boyd said. “We should be dealing with things that are important to the people, like Medicaid and the sales tax on groceries, not politics. I’ve been here for six terms, and sometimes you need to stand up for what is right no matter even if you are just one person.”

Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville, said he voted in support of the bill because state law already protects the life of the unborn.

“In Alabama, if a person kills a pregnant woman, that person will be charged with double homicide,” Kiel said. “That’s because two people were killed. Yet it is legal for a pregnant mother to kill her own child.  We need to be consistent.  A baby is a person in both instances and should be protected.”

Sorrell based his vote on moral and legal grounds.

“I believe all life is created by God and is precious to God,” Sorrell said. “My vote today was in defense of those who are incapable of defending themselves. This bill brings the definition of life in line with existing Alabama law regarding homicides and assaults pertaining to a fetus in utero at any stage of development.”

Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, said he was heavily involved in creating this legislation and was motivated to push the bill because of his home county’s involvement in abortions.

“In Tuscaloosa County, there are over 3,500 abortions in that facility every year,” Wingo said. “There are more abortions in Tuscaloosa County than there are births. That’s the voice that needs to get out in Tuscaloosa.”

Tuscaloosa has one of the state’s three abortion clinics.

Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, argued that there are already other state abortion laws working their way through the courts that could result in Roe v. Wade being challenged. He participated in the organized walk out with fellow House Democrats and did not vote.

“You know they how say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Well here we are again with an unconstitutional bill, and we’re going to get the same result,” England said.

Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, said now it is the right time for the Roe v. Wade to be revisited.

“Forty years after Roe v. Wade passing, it’s time for the Supreme Court to reconsider abortion,” Garrett said. “I’ve heard that people say this bill is extreme, but it’s in reaction to another extreme we are seeing in other places across the country.”

Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham, said legislators should be focused on the growing problems of infant mortality rates and healthcare problems the state already is dealing with.

“In the midst of a healthcare crisis — provider shortages, restricted access to care, high infant mortality rates, high maternal mortality rates, staggering health disparities — we are focusing on using taxpayer resources to go and fight a battle that has been lost time and time again,” Rafferty said. “This is the real moral crisis of Alabama.”

Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said the organization is ready to lobby against the bill in the Senate.

“(Tuesday’s) floor debate made it crystal clear what Alabama lawmakers think about women,” Fox said in a written statement. “It also revealed just how callous and flagrant they can be. They voted overwhelmingly to reject any exception for rape or incest.”

The state’s current law bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the pregnancy puts the mother at risk of death or serious harm.

There were 6,768 abortions performed in Alabama in 2017, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

How they voted

Voting YES

Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville

Rep. Wes Allen, R- Troy

Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton

Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison

Rep Chris Blackshear, R-Phenix City

Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville

Rep. Chip Brown, R-Hollingers Island

Rep. Jim Carns, R-Birmingham

Rep. Steve Clouse: R-Ozark

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur

Rep. Danny Crawford, R-Athens

Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville

Rep. Dickie Drake, R-Leeds

Rep. Brett Easterbrook, R-Fruitdale

Rep. Corley Ellis, R-Columbiana

Rep. Tracey Estes, R-Winfield

Rep. Allen Farley, R-McCalla

Rep. David Faulkner, R-Vestavia

Rep. Joe Foust, R-Fairhope

Rep. Bob Fincher, R-Woodland

Rep. Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo

Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville

Rep. Victor Gaston, R-Mobile

Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville

Rep. Tommy Hanes, R-Scottsboro

Rep. Corey Harbison, R-Cullman

Rep. Jim Hill, R-Moody

Rep. Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka

Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford

Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Montgomery

Rep. Gil Isbell, R- Gadsden

Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga

Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia

Rep. Sam Jones, R-Mobile

Rep. Jamie Kiel, R- Russellville

Rep. Wes Kitchens, R-Arab

Rep. Nathan Ledbetter, R-Rainsville:

Rep. Paul Lee, R-Dothan

Rep. Craig Lipscomb, R-Gasden

Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R-Auburn

Rep. Rhett Marques, R-Enterprise

Rep. Jimmy Martin, R-Clanton

Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Bay Minette

Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-Birmingham

Rep. Parker Moore, R- Decatur

Rep. Becky Nordgren, R- Gadsden

Rep. Ed Oliver, R-Dadeville

Rep. Phillip Pettus, R-Green Hill

Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa

Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile

Rep. Rex Reynolds, R-Huntsville

Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville

Rep. Proncey Robertson, R-Mount Hope

Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper

Rep. Howard Sanderford, R-Huntsville

Rep. Chris Sells, R-Greenville

Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg

Rep. Randall Shedd, R- Cullman

Rep. Harry Shiver, R-Stockton

Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne

Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R- Muscle Shoals

Rep. Jeff Sorrells, R-Hartford

Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette

Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R- Hartselle

Rep. David Standridge, R-Hayden

Rep. Shane Stringer, R-Mobile

Rep. Rodney Sullivan, R-Tuscaloosa

Rep. Allen Treadaway, R-Morris

Rep. Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley

Rep. April Weaver, R- Alabaster

Rep. David Wheeler, R- Vestavia Hills

Rep. Andy Whitt, R-Harvest

Rep. Ritchie Whorton, R-Scottsboro

Rep. Margie Wilcox, R-Mobile

Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa

Rep. Debbie Wood, R-Valley

Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston


Voting NO

Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmigham

Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham

Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield

Not Voting

Rep. Louise Alexander, D-Bessemer

Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Birmingham

Rep. Napoleon Bracy, D-Mobile

Rep. Prince Chestnut, D-Selma

Rep. Adline Clarke, D-Mobile

Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Birmingham

Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville

Rep. Barbara Drummond: D-Mobile

Rep: Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa

Rep. Barry Forte, D-Eufaula

Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham

Rep. Jeremy Gray, D-Opelika

Rep. Dexter Grimsley, D-Newville

Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville

Rep. Kirk Hatcher, D-Montgomery

Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham

Rep. Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro

Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville

Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, D-Hayneville

Rep. A.J. McCampbell, D-Livingston

Rep. Thad McClammy, D-Montgomery

Rep. Tashina Morris, D-Montgomery

Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham

Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee

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