By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY — The State Senate voted largely along party lines Thursday to pass three pieces of Legislation that would declare Alabama a “Pro-Life State” in its constitution, give an opt-out option to health care workers and officially outlaw assisted suicide.
The bills were passed in a marathon of pro-life legislation that was scheduled as part of the Senate Republicans’ “Pro-Life Legislation Day.”
With the Senate’s vote Thursday of 25-7, the constitutional amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City) moves a step closer to becoming law. It will need another round of approval from the House, then of voters statewide before it is added to the Alabama’s lengthy constitution.
Williams, speaking on the floor of the Senate, said the bill would put Alabama in the right posture to “protect the rights of the unborn” if the US Supreme Court were ever to overturn its signature abortion decision in Roe v. Wade. The amendment would ensure that the State government doesn’t “protect the right to abortion” or require funding for abortions in any way — two things it already does not do.
The constitutional amendment would be largely ceremonial.
Democrats filibustered the constitutional amendment for a few hours Thursday but with little success. The bill still passed the Senate chamber with little resistance.
“This bill is about women’s bodies,” said Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham). “This is about choices. This is my choice. It is my body. … I’m pro-life, but I don’t think I should impose my rights on someone else.”
Coleman-Madison also raised concerns that the Legislation was too vague as it was written.
“This Legislation could outlaw many forms of birth control, including IUDs and emergency contraceptives,” she said, asking how much more personal the Senate could get than regulating women’s bodies.
Sen. Vivian Figures (D-Mobile) the second woman to debate the bill, called the Republicans’ efforts to pass nitrogen execution through the State Senate Tuesday then hold a “Pro-Life Day” on Thursday were two-faced.
“Hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy,” were her opening words at the lecture. “This chamber is full of hypocrisy.”
Williams was more optimistic about the amendment.
“We are one conservative appointment away from flipping the balance of the Court in favor of overruling Roe V. Wade and returning the issue to the states,” said Williams, wearing a lapel representing the size of a 10-week-old fetus’ feet. “This Constitutional Amendment declaring Alabama a pro-life state gives us a jumpstart on the issue.”
The Senate also passed two other bills previously passed by the House including a bill that would officially ban physician-assisted suicide in the State and another that would give health care workers an opt-out option when they’re asked to perform services or procedures that violate the personal religious beliefs, including abortions.
The opt-out bill has an exception that would prevent workers from opting out of procedures if the life of a patient is at risk.
“Certain medical procedures like abortions are deeply moral questions of life and death. A nurse shouldn’t be punished or fired by a hospital for declining to participate in an abortion,” said Sen. Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville) the bill’s Senate sponsor.
Assisted suicide is already effectively illegal in Alabama due to previous court precedent.
The right-to-life constitutional amendment will return to the House for additional debate due to an amendment that was passed, along with the right-to-die bill sponsored by Williams. The opt-out bill will now head to the Governor’s desk for her signature.