The first half of 2019 has seen Republican-controlled state legislatures churn out a slew of increasingly draconian restrictions on abortion. But none of them can hold a candle to the law passed by the Alabama legislature on Tuesday.
This law will have the effect of banning almost all abortions in Alabama, except in cases of danger to the mother’s life or if the fetus has a “lethal anomaly.” Doctors who perform abortions for any other reason–such as in the event of rape or incest–could potentially face up to 99 years in prison. However, if Alabama OB/GYN and Physicians for Reproductive Health board member Yashica Robinson is to be believed, the prospect of such a heavy-handed penalty could scare many doctors from performing abortions even when this law normally allows it.
The bill’s backers have made no bones about their real goal–to get this appealed all the way to the Supreme Court in hopes that it could overturn Roe v. Wade, which–for now–gives women the right to have an abortion. Not surprisingly, the ink had barely dried on the roll call vote in the Alabama state senate when the criticism started coming in fast and hard.
Take state senate minority leader Bobby Singleton, for instance, who loudly denounced the bill on CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday morning. Watch here.
Singleton, who struggled to keep his composure after the bill passed, told hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman that it was a “horrible bill.” He hoped that his Republican counterparts weren’t really trying to bury doctors in prison for even an “attempt” at an abortion–even though “attempt” isn’t clearly defined.
Well, it seems that Singleton and others who oppose this monstrosity of a bill may have an unexpected ally. Namely–drum roll, please–Pat Robertson.
Just hours before Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill into law, the Virginia Beach Ayatollah weighed in on the law–and surprisingly, panned it. Watch a clip here.
Robertson said that he believed “Alabama has gone too far” by passing this draconian abortion law. Besides the potential for a de facto life sentence for doctors who break this law, Robertson also lamented the lack of an exception for rape or incest. To Robertson’s mind, this law was an “extreme” measure–so extreme, in fact, that he believed “this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court” in hopes of gutting Roe.
For context, watch the full show here. Robertson panned the Alabama law at around the 9:40 mark. After a CBN News piece on the bill, Robertson said it was “ill-considered” and was “not the case I want to bring to the Supreme Court.”
Looking at the law, Robertson may be on to something. For one thing, if Singleton is right, this law is dangerously vague on the definition of an “attempt” at an abortion. It’s hard not to conclude that Alabama’s legislature–which is now more or less owned by the GOP–saw an opportunity to smother Roe with a pillow. In the process, they may have handed abortion-rights supporters the equivalent of a fish in a barrel.
Then again, many of the other abortion bills we’ve seen of late are equally flawed. Ohio and Georgia recently enacted “heartbeat bills” that ban abortion whenever a heartbeat can be detected. Never mind that these bills are based on bad science. Specifically, a fetal heartbeat can be detected before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.
But such considerations didn’t deter Ohio’s Mike DeWine and Georgia’s Brian Kemp from signing these monstrosities into law. Virtually without fail, whenever you try to ram something through a legislature, you end up with bad law. Seen in this light, this Alabama abortion ban is a natural progression from Ohio and Georgia’s heartbeat bills.
It was clear for some time that Alabama was preparing to enact a monstrosity when this bill was first debated. But if Robertson himself realizes this is a monstrosity as well, it says a lot. And it may not bode well for its chances before the Supremes.
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