Ahead of Alabama abortion bill debate, Lieutenant Governor fights against rape and incest exceptions

By Kate Smith

/ CBS News

Alabama considers near-total abortion ban

Ahead of Alabama's potential vote on a near-total abortion ban, the state's lieutenant governor took to Twitter to urge his fellow lawmakers to pass the legislation without exceptions for rape or incest.

In a 34-second video titled "Abortion is Murder," Alabama Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth told voters to reach out to representatives and urge them to pass the bill.

"Abortion is murder," Ainsworth says in the video that was posted on YouTube Sunday and shared on Twitter. "Those three simple words sum up my position on an issue that many falsely claim in a complex one." He added on Twitter that there should be no amendments, which appeared to be a reference to exceptions for rape or incest.

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"Very important vote this week," Ainsworth tweeted. "Call your State Senators and urge them to step up and SUPPORT the rights of the unborn."

The Alabama State Senate is expected to debate and potentially vote on House Bill 314, the "Human Life Protection Act," on Tuesday. The bill is a near-total abortion ban that allows exceptions only when a women's life is in danger. The legislation also seeks to criminalize the procedure, classifying it as a Class A felony in the state. A doctor performing abortion in Alabama would face up to 99 years in prison under the proposed law.

Alabama's proposed legislation is just one of more than 300 anti-abortion measures that have been introduced this year by state politicians. Four states — Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio and Kentucky — passed bills this year that outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is typically five to six weeks into a pregnancy. Many, like Alabama's, are in direct conflict with the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, which protects a woman's right to an abortion.

If it passes, it would be the most restrictive anti-abortion law approved since Roe. The bill's primary sponsor, Representative Terri Collins, has previously called the legislation a "direct attack" on the Supreme Court's ruling, and anticipates that the bill will be contested by abortion rights advocates and potentially make its way to the high court.

"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."

Ainsworth was embroiled in a fiery exchange last week when state Republicans quickly moved to reject a proposed amendment that would allow an exception for rape and incest. If the amendment had been added, the bill would have gone back to the House for a vote, leading to a delay. Though it is likely the bill will be passed, it isn't likely it will be successfully implemented before being blocked by a federal judge.

First published on May 13, 2019 / 3:33 PM

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