By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, March 9, the Alabama Senate Health Committee voted the Fetal Heartbeat Bill out of committee with a favorable report after a short public hearing where opponents derided the bill as unconstitutional.
State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) sponsored the legislation, SB9. Allen said that he is trying to reduce the abortion rate in Alabama. Allen said that the bill requires that a physician must determine if a heartbeat is present and requires written documentation for all of the procedures. Allen said that there were exceptions involved for an entopic pregnancy or where there is a threat to the life of the mother.
According to the synopsis, “This bill would make it unlawful for a physician to perform an abortion on a pregnant woman after a heartbeat has been detected from the unborn child in accordance with the applicable standards of medical care for determining heartbeats of unborn children. This bill would further require a physician to check for a detectable heartbeat prior to performing an abortion.”
Terri LaPoint from Warrior said that the Constitution and the bill of rights determined that there is a right to life. Roe v Wade would collapse if science determined that a fetus was a distinct living being. Science has come a long way since then. We now what babies look like in the womb. The heart starts beating at 8 to 9 weeks. These are people they are capable of memory. They react to stimuli.
LaPoint said who will fight for the right of the baby to live? They would tell you that they want to live.
Jo Ann Cummings from Decatur said, “I am opposed to SB9 and any other unconstitutional bill.”
Cummings claimed that the required trans-vaginal ultrasound in early pregnancy was invasive and complained that there was no exception in the bill for rape or incest. She said that this was a campaign to chip away at women’s right to choose.
Cummings said, “If Alabama passes this bill it will immediately be challenged.”
Cummings said that it is important that the state lower its Medicaid costs and that 51 percent of Alabama births are paid for by Medicaid so the state should work toward reducing the number of births.
Alexandra Cummings testified that there is nothing magical that happens in pregnancy that takes away a woman’s right to control her body. A heartbeat means nothing the fetus is still not viable. A fetus is nothing but a clump of cells and why should it have more rights to my body than I have?
Elizabeth Graham said that members of the legislature are apparently unaware of the right to privacy. Alabama does not need to duplicate failed attempts by other states. This is settled law.The brain has not developed fully and is not capable of any kind of conscious thought until 28 weeks.
Cynthia Giles testified that her niece came to her pregnant with two children by a deadbeat dad. Planned Parenthood did away with the child. It was ridiculous that she had to endure the taunts of the protesters yelling insults. “It is just trying to shame women.” Viable doesn’t even occur to 28 or 29 weeks.
A young ACLU attorney testified that, “No court will overrule 40 years of established Supreme Court Law.”
Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia) recommended that SB 9 be given a favorable report. The motion was seconded by Senator Larry Stutts (R-Sheffield).
The motion for favorable report passed 7 to 1.
The bill now goes to the full Alabama Senate for further consideration.