Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the US, which passes a near total ban on pregnancy terminations, even in cases of rape, and could punish doctors who perform them with life imprisonment.
“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature,” CNN quoted Ivey, a Republican, as saying in a statement on Wednesday.
“To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
The Alabama Senate passed the bill 25-6 late Tuesday night. 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.
Ivey noted in her Wednesday night statement that the new law may be unenforceable due to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalised abortion in all 50 states. But, the new law was passed with the aim of challenging that decision, she added.
“Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the US Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.”
Besides Alabama, anti-abortion campaigners have successfully enacted a ban on all or most abortions in six Republican-led states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio and Georgia.
Yashica Robinson, an obstetrician at the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives who provides abortion services, told CNN on Wednesday the law would have a “devastating impact” on patients.
She said that she was unclear under what circumstances the law would allow an abortion based on “reasonable medical judgment” and health of the mother.
The bill has elicited a wave of protest from Democrats, including 2020 hopefuls.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke slammed the legislation as unconstitutional.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, California Representative Eric Swalwell, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren vowed to protect the Roe order.
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called the bill an example of “appalling attacks on women’s lives and fundamental freedoms”.