Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the state’s controversial near-total abortion ban Wednesday evening. The new law is the most restrictive anti-abortion measure passed in the United States since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.The legislation — House Bill 314, “Human Life Protection Act” — bans all abortions in the state except when “abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk” to the woman, according to the bill’s text. It criminalizes the procedure, reclassifying abortion as a Class A felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors. Attempted abortions will be reclassified as a Class C penalty.
“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act,” Ivey wrote in a statement Wednesday night. “To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious & that every life is a sacred gift from God.”

hb314-signing.jpg Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs new abortion restrictions into law May 15, 2019. Office of the Governor of Alabama

Alabama’s ban is the latest in an onslaught of state-level anti-abortion measures that activists hope will be taken up by the Supreme Court and potentially overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that protects a woman’s right to the procedure.

Last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law the state’s so-called “fetal heartbeat” bill, a measure that will prohibit abortions after a heartbeat is detected in an embryo, which is typically five to six weeks into a pregnancy, and before most women know that they’re pregnant. The state was the sixth to pass such a law, and the fourth this year alone.

The Law Defines All Humans as Persons from Conception

HB 314, or The Alabama Human Life Protection Act, defines all unborn children as persons (see HERE our study about the matter). This differentiates it from Georgia’s LIFE Act, which would only afford legal protection to preborn babies whose heartbeat can be detected, usually around the gestational age of six weeks.

In previous years the Supreme Court declined to hear such cases. But a new ideological makeup on the nation’s highest court, including the recent appointment of conversative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, has emboldened anti-abortion activists to try again.

“The heart of this bill is to confront a decision that was made by the courts in 1973 that said the baby in the womb is not a person,” Collins said last week when the Alabama House debated the legislation. “This bill addresses that one issue. Is that baby in the womb a person? I believe our law says it is.” Read our study about the human category of the embryo HERE.

The governor’s signature comes less than 24 hours after the Senate passed the controversial law, sparking outrage far beyond Alabama’s state lines. Nearly every 2020 Democratic presidential candidate weighed in to condemn the legislation. In an interview Wednesday with Sirius XM’s Joe Madison Show, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called the measure a “frontal assault on women’s reproductive rights, on women’s freedom and liberty.”

“Not only am I 100 percent against it, but it makes me double down on my determination frankly to become president of the United States and make sure that we pass the kind of federal laws that prevent the erosion of women’s rights,” Booker said.

Alabama state lawmakers also compare abortions in the U.S. to the Holocaust and other modern genocides in the legislation, prompting Jewish activists and abortion rights groups to rebuke the legislation as “deeply offensive.”

During the debate leading up to the vote on Tuesday evening, Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton proposed an amendment that would have carved out an exception for victims of rape and incest. During debate he introduced three women who were victims of rape and told his colleagues, “They didn’t ask for what they got. It happened. And now they’re having to live with it.”

The amendment ultimately failed, with 21 senators voting against the rape and victim exception and 11 voting in favor of it.

Republican Sen. Clyde Chambliss argued that the ban was still fair to victims of rape and incest because those women would still be allowed to get an abortion “until she knows she’s pregnant,” a statement that garnered a mixture of groans and cackles from the chamber’s gallery (CBS, ).

We quote some texts of the law we consider the great bioethical relevance.

  • Section 2 – Legislative findings.

[f] Recent medical advances prove a baby’s heart starts to beat at around six weeks. At about eight weeks, the heartbeat can be heard through an ultrasound examination. Fetal Doppler can detect a fetal heartbeat as early as 10 weeks.

[g] Ultrasound imaging shows the developing child in utero.

[h] As early as six weeks after fertilization, fetal photography shows the clear development of a human being. The Alabama Department of Public Health publication “Did You Know. . .” demonstrates through actual pictures at two-week intervals throughout the entire pregnancy the clear images of a developing human being (page 3)

  • ABORTION. The use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device with the intent to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with knowledge that the termination by those means will with reasonable likelihood cause the death of the unborn child (Section 3 page 4).

Ambiguous Trump’s tweets

On the other hand, President Donald Trump waded into the issue of women’s reproductive rights, suggesting a measure banning almost all abortions in Alabama went too far.

In a series of tweets late Saturday, the president declared himself “strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions – Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother.” (Fortune, May, 20/5/2019).

Bioethical approach

In our opinion, the abortion debate should be approached from a scientific point of view. Is the nasciturus an individual of our species? Scientific evidence shows that it is (read HERE), so the nasciturus has the right to life-based on its own nature. We congratulate the Alabama legislators for defending the condition of person of the nasciturus.



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