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Near-total abortion ban passes the House of Representatives

State Rep. Terri Collins

The Alabama House of Representatives has passed a bill that would criminalize nearly all abortions in the state of Alabama.

House Bill 314 is sponsored by State Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur.

“The heart of this bill is to confront a decision by the Court in 1973 that says that the child in the womb is not a human being,”  Collins said.

Collins said this, “Makes it a criminal offense to perform an abortion as a doctor. The woman would be held blameless.”

State Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, said that the bill challenges Roe v. Wade, going to the heart of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Wingo said that the abortion clinic in Tuscaloosa performs 3,500 abortions a year.

“There are more abortions in Tuscaloosa than births,” Wingo said.

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A pro-abortion protestor was arrested in the House Gallery by the Capitol Police after she threw paints at the glass and threw paint at Capitol Police.

As of press time, she was being held in the Montgomery County Jail. Her name has not been released.

The bill had 68 House cosponsors so passage was all but certain.

Democrats tried to filibuster the special order calendar, but new House rules passed in the organizational session in January limited that filibuster to just one hour.

The Budget Isolation Resolution estimated that the state would spend between $1 million and $2 million defending this bill in federal court over inevitable lawsuits.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, introduced an amendment asking for an exception for rape and incest.

Collins told Daniels, “I am not going to accept any amendments.”

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Collins asked that the House table the Daniels amendment. The tabling motion passed 71 to 26.

State Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Midfield, introduced an amendment that would have required state legislators to foot the bill for defending the law. That amendment also failed 61 to 27.

After that, most of the House Democrats walked out.

State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, and the remaining handful of Democrats filibustered.

“Some children are just unwanted. You either kill them now or you kill them later in the electric chair,” Rogers said.

State Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham, read a poem, “If my vagina was a gun you would protect its rights……..”

Rogers said, “I may bring a bill to force all men to have vasectomies. That would end this whole debate. There would be no more abortions and eventually no more voters.”

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Rogers said that as a Catholic he is personally pro-life, but that the Legislature should leave options open for women.

“Some parents can’t handle a child with problems,” he said. “It could be retarded. It might have no arms and no legs.”

House Bill 314 passed 74 to 3 with many Democrats having already left the chamber in protest.

A number of anti-abortion bills have been introduced across the South, with bills passing in Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi and Georgia.

The ACLU has vigorously challenged those laws.

They immediately filed suits and have gotten federal judges to block these bans in Kentucky and Mississippi. The ACLU of Alabama announced that they are prepared to sue if the Alabama Legislature passes this ban.

“We are disappointed that the Alabama House passed HB314 despite the fact it would criminalize abortion and interfere with a woman’s personal, private medical decisions,” the ACLU wrote in a statement. “It is unfortunate that members of the House are putting their personal beliefs ahead of what’s in the best interest of our state. The people of Alabama are paying the bill for unconstitutional legislation and we hope that the Senate members will realize its detrimental impact and stop this bill from becoming law. Otherwise it will be challenged in federal court.”

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Planned Parenthood President and CEO Staci Fox said the organization expected this vote to happen, and they are ready for a fight in the Senate

“Today’s floor debate made it crystal clear what Alabama lawmakers think about women,” Fox said. “It also revealed just how callous and flagrant they can be. They voted overwhelmingly to reject any exception for rape or incest. And, despite acknowledging that this bill will inevitably end in litigation, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars, they rejected the opportunity to ‘put their money where their mouth is,’ as Rep. Merika Coleman put it, and pay for that litigation themselves. Instead, they are forcing the people of this state to fund this political game they are playing, with Alabama women as their pawns.”

Collins said she was pleased the bill passed.

In November, Alabama voters, by a large margin, approved a constitutional amendment that would effectively outlaw abortions in this state if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Update: When HB314 passed the House only three representatives voted against it.  A number of Democrats who had left the chamber have since changed their vote to no, so the updated vote is 72 to 26.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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