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Personhood Bill Debated in Public Hearing

By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY–On Wednesday, a public hearing on when personhood begins was held in the Senate Health Committee.

A bill sponsored by Senate Health Committee member Senator Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City), SB5, seeks to determine at what point in the fertilization cycle of pregnancy produces a person.

According to the bill:
Section 1. The term “persons” as used in the Code of Alabama 1975, shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization and implantation into the womb.
Williams said, “I am trying to save lives, that is the  end result of what I am trying to accomplish.”

The terminology “implantation” used in the bill, according to Williams, means the fertilized egg that must have reached the womb. He said, “Once a fertilized egg is in the womb, period, that is what we are considering a person under this bill.”

Williams said that the bill has changed from last year to take into consideration of concerns expressed by in vitro fertilization (IVF) organizations. “The bill is off of its original from last year when I first introduced it but it quickly became apparent the only reasonable argument against it came from the in vitro fertilization organizations. And while I disagree with it, it was the most respectable counter that I had to the bill and it also did effect some of the votes on the floor.”

Williams said that he met with the IVF specialists before changing the bill. “I feel like we have taken care of their concerns.”

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Senate Health Committee member Senator Linda Coleman (D-Birmingham)said, “This personhood bill defines a person from fertilization and inception. In other words, [two people] have sex [a sperm is deposited] but that is not a baby.”

Coleman said that she did not consider a pregnancy of two weeks a baby but a chance for one to grow. “You have planted a seed and given it a potential to grow. An acorn is not an oak tree. Although it has the potential to be one if it grows. So you are going to tell me this acorn, this seed, can be redefine as a person,” said Coleman. “The dangers in this bill is redefining. A doctor who spoke in the public hearing said that we don’t celebrate conception days, we celebrate birthdays.”

Williams said, “In my opinion this bill saves as many lives as you can and we will continue to work toward 100 percent as the years go by but we have to start somewhere.”

The bill sits in the queue for assignment to special order in the last few days of the 2012 session.

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