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News > U.S.

Chaos in Alabama Senate as Anti-abortion Bill Vote is Delayed

  • Debate on a version of the bill without the rape and incest amendment was set to begin at 4 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday.

    Debate on a version of the bill without the rape and incest amendment was set to begin at 4 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 May 2019

Anti-abortion laws have already passed in the neighboring states of Georgia and Mississippi, creating what human rights advocates have warned would be a massive "abortion desert."

Alabama's state Senate Thursday delayed a vote on the strictest abortion bill in the United States until next week after disagreement arose on the Senate floor about whether to allow women whose pregnancy followed rape and incest to have a legal abortion.

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Alabama's House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would have banned abortion except in cases where the mother's life was in danger, making it the strictest state abortion law in the country.

After the bill moved to the Senate, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday added an amendment by Senator Tom Whatley that would also include exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

When the matter came before the full Senate Thursday, and it was evident there was no consensus on the rape and incest amendment, the Senate delayed the vote until Tuesday, said Kim Robertson, a spokeswoman for Whatley.

According to local media, president of the legislative chamber Will Ainsworth (Republican) tried to pass the bill with a voice vote in a bid to bypass the Democratic vote.

Anti-abortion legislators have introduced strict bills in states across the country, inviting legal challenges in the hopes that a case will land before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court now has a majority of conservative, anti-abortion judges, including two appointed by Republican President Donald Trump, who could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that established a woman's right to an abortion.

Georgia Tuesday became the fourth U.S. state this year to outlaw abortion once a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat, which abortion-rights advocates vowed to challenge in court.

Opponents called the legislation a virtual ban because fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks, before a woman may be aware she is pregnant.

Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted heartbeat laws since mid-March, and Iowa passed one last year. Courts have blocked the Iowa and Kentucky laws, and the others face legal challenges.

Anti-abortion advocates have introduced measures in 15 states to ban the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, according to Rewire.News, a site specializing in the issue.

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