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A Democratic lawmaker is already trying to repeal Alabama’s abortion ban

Chip Brownlee

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Alabama Democratic state Sen. Vivian Figures has filed a long-shot bill in the State Legislature that would reverse the near-total abortion ban approved and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last week.

The repeal is unlikely to pass in either of the legislative chambers where Republicans hold supermajorities and passed the abortion ban along partisan lines. Every Republican present in the Senate last week voted for the ban.

Despite the low odds that the repeal would ever happen, Figures is hoping to send a message that Democrats are not happy with the ban, which would criminalize nearly all abortions even in cases of rape and incest.

“There are consequences for every decision we make as legislators, and for every vote we cast, there are ramifications,” Figures said. “However, some of these effects are unintended, and I truly believe this has been the case for SB314. I do not believe my Republican colleagues had any idea what the consequences for passing this bill would be.”

The only exceptions in the law are for the life of the woman seeking an abortion and if the fetus has a fetal anomaly, which would lead to the fetus’s death.

Figures cited criticism from televangelist Pat Robertson, Sen. Mitt Romney and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel as reasons for reconsidering the law. National Republican leaders — including President Donald Trump — have distanced themselves from the law, which they said goes too far without exceptions for rape and incest.

“I felt that the least I could do was to offer a bill to repeal HB314 with the hopes that it would help to heal some of the wounds that my Republican brothers and sisters have inflicted on the great state of Alabama,” Figures said. “Unfortunately, this bill is serving as a detriment to the entire state of Alabama in terms of revenues and in terms of healthcare, particularly for women.”

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The bill’s sponsors said they wrote the bill with the intent of challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that officially recognized a woman’s right to an abortion, before a more conservative Supreme Court that appears primed to reconsider the precedent.

Alabama’s law defines the fetus as a person, and the sponsors hope the court would agree if they ever take up the case. It’s possible — if not likely — that the law will never go into effect. Lower federal courts are likely to enjoin the law. It would go into effect in six months without an injunction.

Figures said national and international concern about the measure could hurt Alabama’s business environment and tourism industry.

“I have heard from people all over the country saying they planned a vacation to Alabama’s beautiful beaches, but when this extreme abortion ban was signed into law, they immediately canceled those plans,” Figures. “If we care about the future and well-being of our state, this law must be repealed.”

It’s unlikely that Figures’ repeal measure would make it before a committee before the Legislature adjourns sine die to end this year’s legislative session. Though there are several legislative days left, lawmakers hope to be done by the end of May, further limiting the window for Figures’ legislation to be considered.

 

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