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Rep. Yarbrough to file bill to include abortion under Alabama homicide law

The bill would effectively mean that women seeking abortions could be prosecuted for homicide.

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State Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, R-Trinity, announced Tuesday that he will be filing a bill to consider abortion as murder under Alabama law.

“Abortion is murder, and justice demands that our laws treat it as such,” Yarbrough said in a statement. “If you look at Alabama law, you will see there is an exemption that says that abortion is not murder in our state. It’s time we change that. This bill is simply an attempt to align our law with our rhetoric. Alabamians agree: life begins at conception, and abortion is murder. The Abolish Abortion in Alabama Act reflects that sentiment.”

The bill would repeal a section of the Alabama code that expressly precludes abortion under Alabama homicide law.

The separate 2019 Human Life Protection Act passed by the Legislature makes the performance of an abortion a Class A Felony, on the same level as homicide, but specifically states that women seeking abortions are not to be held criminally or civilly liable.

A separate 1951 law provides for a Class A misdemeanor for inducing an abortion, and makes no such caveat, which has worried some advocates that the code could be used to prosecute women. Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has filed a bill to repeal that law that contradicts the 2019 law.

Yarbrough’s bill originates from a non-profit called End Abortion Alabama, a 501(c)4 founded in Prattville in December 2021.

Founder DJ Parten said this bill is intended to provide equal protection for unborn babies under the law.

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“Babies in the womb deserve to be protected by the laws that protect us as born people,” Parten said. “In effect, (this bill) gives prosecutors another section of code to prosecute abortion under.”

Parten said that could include women seeking abortion, as the bill will not give any “blanket immunity.”

“The goal here is not to say who is and who isn’t going to be prosecuted,” Parten said. “Ultimately that’s up to our judicial system. If I had my way, nobody would be prosecuted for abortion because nobody would be involved in the abortion of pre-born children. But this bill is not offering blanket immunity for a particular group of people.”

There has been some sway in whether Alabama is willing to prosecute the women involved in terminating their pregnancies since the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Although the law has effectively stopped surgical abortions at clinics in Alabama, women are still able to use abortion pills due to federal laws. Attorney General Steve Marshall previously said those women could be prosecuted for chemical endangerment, but later walked back those statements.

Parten said some women deserve to be prosecuted for seeking abortions.

“Women who are victims, who are in difficult situations and maybe pressured to commit an abortion, we’re working on some things to protect those women,” Parten said. “But women who intentionally terminate their child should not be granted blanket immunity. There certainly are exceptions where we don’t want them to face prosecutions. But women openly boasting about abortions, using that language, those women are not victims. Nobody by nature of being a woman should be immune from prosecution.”

According to Parten, the nonprofit is working solely to create policy centered on abortion, with this being its first and only bill thus far. 

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The organization’s website specifically targets self-managed abortions as the key battleground to stop, and identifies Alabama’s execution against prosecuting women as the major obstacle.

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

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