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  • Pro-choice supporters protest in front of the Alabama State House as Alabama state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. May 14, 2019.

    Pro-choice supporters protest in front of the Alabama State House as Alabama state Senate votes on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. May 14, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 May 2019

Alabama's Senate votes for a near-complete ban on abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Women could be imprisoned for up to 99 years for having the operation. 

Alabama's Senate passed a bill Tuesday to outlaw nearly all abortions in the state creating exceptions only to protect the mother's health as part of a multistate effort to have the United States Supreme Court reconsider a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.

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The country's strictest abortion bill was already approved by the Alabama House of Representatives and will now go to Republican Governor Kay Ivey who has strongly opposed abortion in the past. The state leader has withheld comment on whether she will sign the bill.

The measure, passed 25-6, would take effect six months after being signed by the governor, if she approves it. In that case, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups will likely sue the state saying it violates the 1973 federal protection of abortions during the first trimester.

Republican Senator Clyde Chambliss, arguing in favor of the bill, said the whole point was "so that we can go directly to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe versus Wade."

Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced this year in 16 states; four governors have signed into law abortion bans that prohibit the procedure if an embryonic heartbeat is detected.

The Alabama bill goes further though, banning abortions at any time. Those performing abortions would be committing a felony, punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison, although a woman who receives an abortion would not be held criminally liable.

The Republican-controlled Alabama Senate also defeated a Democratic amendment that would have allowed legal abortions for women and girls impregnated by rape and incest.

Out of the 27 white Republican Senate males, 25 voted to pass the bill. There are only four women in the state senate.

"You don't have to provide for that child. You don't have to do anything for that child, yet you want to make that decision for that woman," Democratic Senator Vivian Davis Figures said. "It should be that woman's choice."

The supporters of the Alabama ban said the right to life of the unborn child transcends other rights.

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Republican-led states have their minds set on sending the Roe v. Wade case that legalizes a woman's right to an abortion, back to the Supreme Court now that it has a conservative majority in order to overturn the 1973 landmark decision.

Since January, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have outlawed abortion if a doctor can detect an embryonic heartbeat.

Opponents call the "heartbeat" legislation a virtual ban because the embryonic cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks, before a woman may be aware she is pregnant.

Democratic state Senator Linda Coleman-Madison called the Republicans hypocritical for advocating small government that ought to stay out of private matters but "now you want in my womb; I want you out."

Physicians for Reproductive Health (PRH) said the near total ban on abortions would have a disastrous effect on healthcare.

"Physicians will be unwilling to help patients in need, even when continuing pregnancy is detrimental to a patient's health, or potentially fatal, out of fear of being scrutinized by the criminal justice system," Dr. Yashica Robinson, a PRH board member and obstetrician and gynecologist said in a statement.

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano has called for a sex strike under the social media hashtag #SexStrike in response to the campaigns against abortion rights, urging women to refuse sex with men "until we get bodily autonomy back."

The National Organization for Women (NOW) denounced the ban as unconstitutional.

"This is a transparent effort to drum up political support for anti-abortion candidates in upcoming elections and serves as a direct threat to women's health, autonomy and pursuit of happiness," the women's rights organization said in a statement.


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