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Committee OKs bill banning abortion pill

About 40 percent of abortions in America are chemical abortions.


About 4 out of every 10 abortions in America are performed using pills, as opposed to the more publicized surgical procedures.

That’s what Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle Shoals, said led him to file HB 261 to criminalize the manufacture, distribution, prescription, sale or transfer of Mifeprex, commonly known as the abortion pill. Violation of the law would be a Class C felony.

“The new trend is chemical abortion,” Sorrell told members of the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. “The doctor tells you to go home, take the pill, sit on the toilet and when the bleeding starts, don’t look and keep flushing.”

Sorrell said that sometimes results in the embryo being born alive.

The abortion pill works in two steps, with Mifeprex causing shedding of the uterine lining, preventing the embryo from receiving vital nutrients and detaching it from the uterine wall. 

Then 24 to 48 hours later, a second pill known as misoprostol that causes bleeding and cramping within the uterus to dispel the dead embryo, which is approximately the size of a marble depending on when the pill is taken.

The pill must be taken within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. 

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The bill would not criminalize women who use the pill to have an abortion.

Sorrell clarified that this bill would not affect the “morning-after pill” or any other contraceptive drugs. It only bans the relevant abortifacient medications at a time when pregnancy can be revealed by conventional testing.

Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said it was a “pet peeve” that the bill included legislative findings. The legislative findings reiterate Alabama’s stance against abortion as well as describing the procedure. Sorrell said the findings were included by Students for Life of America, an anti-abortion nonprofit behind the bill. He agreed to a floor amendment that would remove the findings from the bill.

“I don’t think they’re necessary for the bill,” Sorrell said.

The bill was given favorable report without opposition and moves to the full House for consideration.

The ACLU of Alabama released a statement criticizing the bill.

“This bill is not about women’s health,” said Kaitlin Welborn, reproductive rights attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. “Study after study has found that this medication is safer than either Tylenol or Viagra. Let’s call this bill what it is: another excuse for the Alabama Legislature to play doctor and meddle in the healthcare options available to people in this state.”

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Alabama already has a law on the books making almost all abortions illegal, including chemical abortions. However, that law is currently held up in federal courts as the state waits for it to reach the U.S. Supreme Court for a shot upending Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s right to abortion up to about 24 weeks. Reversing the Supreme Court decision would return the issue of abortion back to the states.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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