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Alabama Senate approves country’s most restrictive abortion ban

15 May 2019

Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced in 16 states this year, four of whose governors have signed bills banning abortion if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected. That includes Georgia, where Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a "heartbeat bill" into law on Tuesday. Supporters said the bill is intentionally created to conflict with the US Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalising abortion nationally. He said the law specifically bars abortions when a woman is "known to be pregnant", indicating that victims of crimes could get "treatment" ahead of a pregnancy test.

The high court, now with a majority of conservative justices after Republican President Donald Trump appointed two, could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision establishing a woman's right to an abortion.

House Bill 481 forbids abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected except in cases of rape, incest, physical medical emergencies, and pregnancies deemed "medically futile".

"I believe that if we terminate the life of an unborn child, we are putting ourselves in God's place", Chambliss said.

"Our bill says that baby in the womb is a person", said Republican Rep. Terri Collins, the bill's sponsor, said in an interview.

Democrats, who hold a mere eight seats in the 35-member Senate, criticised the proposed abortion ban as a mixture of political grandstanding, an attempt to control women and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Figures received cheers and clapping from a packed gallery, which was overlooking the Senate floor, largely filled with activists who support the right to have an abortion.

"You don't have to raise that child". It criminalizes the procedure, reclassifying abortion as a Class A felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors.

In other words, an abortionist providing an illegal abortion, or a man beating a woman and killing her baby, would be in deep legal trouble for murder; not the woman so-called "self-terminating".

"The governor intends to withhold comment until it makes its way to her desk for signature, " deputy press secretary Lori Jhons wrote in an email prior to Tuesday night's vote.

The law would take effect six months after being signed by the governor, but is certain to face legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups who have vowed to sue.

Alabama Senate approves country’s most restrictive abortion ban