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Democratic lawmakers file bills to change abortion laws

Sen. Vivian Davis-Figures has filed a bill that would erase the state’s law that completely prohibits abortions and criminalizes doctors.

Sen. Vivian Davis-Figures

Three bills have been filed ahead of the upcoming legislative session that would affect abortions in the state.

Sen. Vivian Davis-Figures, D-Mobile, has filed a bill that would entirely erase the state’s current law that completely prohibits abortions and criminalizes doctors who would perform them.

SB13 proposes an amendment to the state’s constitution that would repeal Alabama’s abortion law, and instead enshrine women’s right to make reproductive decisions including abortions.

The bill would allow the state to prohibit abortions after “fetal viability,” except in the case that the pregnancy endangers the mother. However, the bill itself does not prohibit abortion at any stage of pregnancy and would require further action from the Legislature.

The Republican supermajority is unlikely to let the bill get anywhere, as Republicans have touted the reversal of Roe v. Wade as a major victory. If it did find a way to pass out of the Legislature, it would need to gain the approval of Alabamians as a ballot measure.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, has proposed a more modest revision to the state’s existing law, adding exceptions for rape and incest.

Lawmakers considered those exceptions when passing the original legislation in 2019, but were urged to pass a clean bill to challenge Roe v. Wade, which was still intact at the time. Although the landmark decision has been upended, the bill’s author Eric Johnston has advised lawmakers not to carve out exceptions, arguing it is inconsistent with the state’s position that life must be protected from conception.

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Daniels has gone on the record that he would prefer to overturn the entirety of the state’s law, but would also pursue crafting exceptions until that goal is accomplished.

Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has also brought back his bill to eliminate an Alabama law that stands in conflict to the state’s primary abortion law.

While the 2019 law prohibiting abortion explicitly precludes mothers from being charged with a crime for participating in an abortion, an older law on the books that could be interpreted in such a way to charge women with a misdemeanor for attempting to induce an abortion.

England told APR last year that he is concerned some district attorneys could use that law to prosecute women.

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

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