After another round of lengthy debate, the Alabama House on Thursday approved a bill that would create criminal penalties if a doctor fails to try to preserve the life of a child born after an abortion.
Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, introduced House Bill 237 that would require doctors to “exercise reasonable care to preserve the life of a child born alive after an abortion or an attempted abortion in an abortion or reproductive health center.”
Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, asked Shaver whether such an instance has happened in Alabama. Shaver said that during her work as a former crisis pregnancy counselor she was told by a woman that such an instance did occur during an abortion, but that she couldn’t discuss it further due to privacy concerns.
Hill said she’s concerned that, once a child is born in Alabama, not enough focus is placed on ensuring the child has a good education and other resources.
“When it’s time for making sure that that child has adequate food, and the resources that would help them to be a productive citizen, we seem to forget about that. We stop right there,” Hill said.
Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville, said he supports the bill, which he said protects vulnerable babies and that he finds it reprehensible that “anybody who calls themselves a doctor would deny lifesaving treatment to a baby.”
“We’re not talking about a baby in the womb. We’re talking about a baby that’s been delivered, that is still alive,” Kiel said.
Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, said he supports the legislation but would like to see the penalty increased from a Class A felony to the death penalty.
“But I think I can live with that,” Greer said of the Class A felony charge.
“I’m just trying to figure out why this bill is necessary because what you’re talking about is already illegal. There are already multiple state and federal laws that protect these children,” said Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham.
House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, asked for a vote to cloture the debate, which would end discussions after 10 more minutes and call for a vote on an amendment that Shaver introduced addressing the health of the mother.
Ledbetter’s motion passed, and after 10 more minutes of debate, the House voted to approve Shaver’s amendment, who then submitted a second amendment, which increased the bill’s penalty to a Class A felony. The House then passed the bill on a 76-12 vote, moving it to the Senate for consideration.