Most Americans have already heard this, so I’m just giving the news to those who haven’t, complaining about what happened, and offering you a chance to comment.
What happened, as the New York Times reports (click on screenshot below), is that the Alabama legislature passed a law that effectively ends all abortions in that state save in pregnancies that endanger the life of the mother. Pregnancies resulting from rape and incest must still be carried to term—a horrible stipulation.
From the paper:
The Alabama Senate approved a measure on Tuesday that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, setting up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the case that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy.
The legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the mother’s life is at serious risk, but not for cases of rape or incest — a subject of fierce debate among lawmakers in recent days.
The House approved the measure — the most far-reaching effort in the nation this year to curb abortion rights — last month. It now moves to the desk of Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican. Although the governor has not publicly committed to signing the legislation, many Republican lawmakers expect her support.
This is part of a wider national movement energized by the election of Trump, which empowered conservatives and right-wing Christians:
Other state measures to restrict abortion rights have advanced in the South and the Midwest this year and invited legal fights. Already, the governors of Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have signed fetal heartbeat bills. [JAC: those are bills prohibiting abortion after the time when a fetal heartbeat appears.] And Arkansas moved up the cutoff point for legal abortions to 18 weeks of pregnancy, from 20 weeks.
CNN adds information about the vote, which was lopsided, even on the rape/incest stipulation:
After more than four hours of debate, the Republican-led Senate voted 25-6 to pass HB 314, which would slap doctors with up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. The Alabama House passed the bill earlier this month.The law only allows exceptions “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.” Democrats re-introduced an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims, but the motion failed on an 11-21 vote.
Grania points out that the decision, at least in Alabama, doesn’t seem to be so much a men vs. women issue (as is often claimed) rather than one of conservatives versus liberals:
Men in Alabama are 60% opposed to abortion in all/most cases. Women are 57% opposed in all/most cases. Might be more at play than representation here. https://t.co/OdHu8XDNjN
— Luke Bailey (@imbadatlife) May 15, 2019
And Matthew adds that the Alabama law is basically the same as the one holding sway in Northern Ireland, where abortions for rape and incest are also illegal, as well as every other abortion save those in which the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.
I’ve always thought that yes, Trump will go away (perhaps next year), but his influence on the Supreme Court (and that of the Republican Senate) will remain for decades, with a conservative court that will interpret the law for ages to come. Let us hope that stare decisis will hold this time.