The strictest abortion laws in the US have been passed in Alabama by a group of 25 white men. The laws, if they are deemed constitutional, will see abortion banned in the state even in the cases of rape and incest. The only exemptions for the law will be where completing the pregnancy will be a danger to the physical (not mental) health of the mother.
Under the laws, doctors could face 99 years in prison for carrying out an abortion, and 10 years for attempting to terminate a pregnancy. Supporters of the law, which is likely to be deemed unconstitutional, are hoping that any challenges to the law will end up in front of the Supreme Court, where it could be used to challenge Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established a woman's right to decide for herself to bring or not bring a pregnancy to term is guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment, and an attempt to intervene by the state is a violation of her constitutional right to privacy.
“It simply criminalizes abortion,” one of the bill's sponsors Republican Terri Collins told the Guardian. “Hopefully, it takes it all the way to the supreme court to overturn Roe versus Wade.”
Under the bill, doctors could face 10 years in prison for attempting to terminate a pregnancy and 99 years for actually carrying out the procedure. It received some opposition in the Senate and the Alabama House of Representatives, but was ultimately passed easily in both houses.
"We're telling a 12-year-old girl who, through incest and rape is pregnant," Democrat Rodger Smitherman said before the debate, BBC reports. "We are telling her that she doesn't have a choice."
The state Senate passed the bill by 25 votes to 6, and by 74-3 in the Alabama House of Representatives. All of the votes in favor of the bill came from white male Republicans. Gregs, Jims, and people named Randy were better represented in the Republican section of the vote than women.
Of the 35 seats in the Alabaman senate, only four are taken by women, the Guardian reports.
In one offensive detail of an already quite horrific bill, the text explicitly compares abortion to the Holocaust, executions carried out under Stalin, and the Khmer Rouge regime.
"It is estimated that 6,000,000 Jewish people were murdered in German concentration camps during World War II; 3 million people were executed by Joseph Stalin's regime in Soviet gulags; 2.5 million people were murdered during the Chinese 'Great Leap Forward'," the text reads, before going on to list several other massacres.
"More than 50 million babies have been aborted in the United States since the Roe decision in 1973, more than three times the number who were killed in German death camps, Chinese purges, Stalin's gulags, Cambodian killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined."
And that, depressingly, is the text of a bill that only six people in the Alabaman State Senate thought worthy of voting against.
The bill will now go to Republican Governor Kay Ivey, who has previously made comments supporting pro-life positions, but hasn't yet said whether she will sign it. The bill will likely face a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union and other pro-choice groups, however if it passed, it would come into effect in around six months.
Staci Fox, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said the bill was a “death sentence for women across this state”, the Independent reports.
“These bans are blatantly unconstitutional and lawmakers know it – they just don’t care. Alabamians are just pawns in this political game to challenge access to safe, legal abortion nationally.”