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Human Life Protection Act

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Human Life Protection Act
Seal of Alabama.svg
Alabama State Legislature
Full nameHuman Life Protection Act
StatusEffective six months following gubernatorial approval
IntroducedApril 2, 2019[1]
House votedApril 30, 2019[1]
Senate votedMay 14, 2019[1]
Signed into lawMay 15, 2019[1]
Sponsor(s)Terri Collins (House)[2]
Clyde Chambliss (Senate)[3]
GovernorKay Ivey

The Human Life Protection Act, also known as House Bill 314 (HB 314) and the Alabama abortion ban,[4] is an Alabama statute enacted on May 15, 2019 that will impose a near-total ban on abortion in the state starting in November 2019. The bill was passed in both chambers of the Alabama Legislature in a party-line vote and signed by Republican governor Kay Ivey. Under the Human Life Protection Act, a doctor who performs a banned abortion in the state of Alabama would be guilty of Class A felony and could be sentenced to life imprisonment. Several proposed amendments that would have allowed abortions in cases of rape and incest were rejected. The bill's sponsor, Republican representative Terri Collins, has stated that she hopes the law will lead to a legal challenge in which Roe v. Wade is overturned.

From its introduction to its signing, the Human Life Protection Act has been strongly opposed by Democratic politicians, activists, and celebrities; it has also been criticized by some Republican figures.

Legislative history

The bill was introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives on April 2, 2019, by Terri Collins, a Republican representing Decatur.[2] In the Alabama Senate, Republican Clyde Chambliss sponsored Collins' legislation.[3] Eric Johnson, the president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, wrote the Human Life Protection Act.[5]

Provisions

The Human Life Protection Act[6] "defines all unborn children as persons".[7] It bans abortions at any stage of a pregnancy.[8] The law provides for exceptions in cases where a fetus has a lethal anomaly (in other words, a medical condition that would cause the fetus to be stillborn or to die shortly following birth) or in cases where an abortion would "prevent serious health risk" to a pregnant woman.[9] The law also allows abortions to be performed "upon confirmation from a psychiatrist" that a pregnant woman diagnosed with a "serious mental illness" might otherwise take an action that would lead to her own death or to the death of the fetus.[7] The law does not ban procedures to end ectopic pregnancies[10] or procedures in which a dead fetus is removed from the uterus.[7] It does not include an exception in cases of rape or incest.[9]

The Human Life Protection Act classifies the performance of an illegal abortion as a Class A felony equivalent to rape and murder. Doctors found guilty under its provisions could receive sentences ranging from 10 years imprisonment to 99 years or life imprisonment.[11] An attempt at performing an illegal abortion is classified by the bill as a Class C felony.[12] The bill also states that women receiving abortions would not be held criminally or civilly liable.[9]

A provision in the bill compared abortion to historical genocide events: "More than 50 million babies have been aborted in the United States since the Roe decision in 1973, more than three times the number who were killed in German death camps, Chinese purges, Stalin's gulags, Cambodian killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined".[13]

Debate

Anthony Daniels, the Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives, proposed an amendment to the bill that would allow abortions in cases of rape and incest, but it was rejected by a vote of 72–26. Collins opposed the amendment and stated, "My goal with this bill is to let the Supreme Court possibly revisit [the Roe v. Wade] decision on just the issue that they made that decision, which was, is that baby in the womb a person."[14] Democratic representative Merika Coleman said, "I do support life, but there are some people that just support birth, they don't support life, because after a child is born there are some things that need to happen. We need to make sure that child has adequate health care."[15]

A day after the bill's passage in the House of Representatives, Democratic representative John Rogers endorsed a woman's choice to choose, but then stated, "Some kids are unwanted, so you kill them now or kill them later. You bring them into the world unwanted, unloved, then you send them to the electric chair. So you kill them now or you kill them later. But the bottom line is that I think we shouldn’t be making this decision."[16]

An amendment that would have allowed abortions for rape and incest victims failed in the Senate by a vote of 21–11.[17][18] After the amendment's rejection, Democratic minority leader Bobby Singleton said, "You just aborted and you raped the state of Alabama. All of you should be put in jail for this abortion that you just laid on the state of Alabama. This is just a shame. This is a disgrace. It is a travesty." The minority leader sought to filibuster the legislation, but the Senate voted to end debate after four and a half hours of argumentation.[19]

In the Senate debate, Chambliss argued that under the bill, a woman who was pregnant due to rape or incest still could legally get an abortion "until she knows she's pregnant";[12] he had previously claimed that "there's some period of time before you can know a woman is pregnant".[20] During the debate, Vivian Davis Figures asked Chambliss if he knew "what it's like to" suffer rape or incest, to which he answered that he didn't in both cases.[21] Figures proposed an amendment that would make men who have vasectomies guilty of a Class A felony and those who attempt to have a vasectomy guilty of a Class C felony. On the Senate floor, Linda Coleman-Madison said, "This bill is about control."[22]

Vote and enactment

On April 30, 2019, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives along a party-line vote of 74–3.[23] Most of the Democrats in the House of Representatives walked out of debate on the bill and subsequently did not vote.[14] In the Alabama Senate, Republican Clyde Chambliss sponsored Collins' legislation.[3] On May 14, 2019, the bill was passed by the Senate by a vote of 25–6, also along party lines.[24] In the Senate, the vote was notable in that every vote in favor of the bill came from white men.[25][importance?] There were only four women in the upper chamber of the Alabama Legislature, none of whom voted for the legislation.[26][importance?]

On May 15, 2019, the day after the bill was passed by the Senate, Governor Kay Ivey signed it into law.[12] The bill is set to go into effect in November 2019.[27]

House of Representatives

Human Life Protection Act – Vote in the House of Representatives (April 30, 2019)[23]
Party Votes for Votes against Not voting/Not present
Republican (76) 74
Democratic (28) 25
Total (104) 74 3 27

The Alabama House of Representatives consisted of 82% men, 18% women at the time of the vote.[23][importance?]

Senate

Human Life Protection Act – Vote in the Senate (May 14, 2019)[24][a]
Party Votes for Votes against Not voting/Not present
Republican (27) 25
Democratic (8)
Total (35) 25 6 4

The Alabama Senate consisted of 89% men, 11% women at the time of the vote.[24][importance?]

Reaction

Following the passage of the Human Life Protection Act, Vice President Mike Pence applauded the state of Alabama for "embracing life".[28]

Evangelist Franklin Graham said he was thankful to the Alabama governor and the legislators who passed the bill and continued by saying, "I hope and pray many other governors will be encouraged by her boldness and do the same."[29]

David French of National Review wrote the following regarding the Human Life Protection Act and similar state legislation:

We are witnessing the beginnings of an anti-abortion legislative revolution in Red America. Two generations of pro-life activism, persuasion, and argument have yielded pro-life supermajorities in state houses across much of the South and Midwest, and they recognize the fact that we have reached a moment of legal possibility we may never attain again — perhaps not for generations. It is possible (maybe not likely, but possible) that the Supreme Court could overrule Roe v. Wade, and these legislatures have chosen to go for broke.

Good.[30]

Abortion rights groups such as POWER House demonstrated in the state capital in opposition to the bill.[4] On May 19, hundreds of people protested the legislation at the state capitol.[31] After the passage of the bill, advocacy groups within the state of Alabama began receiving more donations. According to the Yellowhammer Fund, the group received tens of thousands of dollars since then and can provide triple the amount of clients it served in 2018 after a social media campaign that involved sports journalist Shea Serrano and U.S. senators and presidential candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris.[32] Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, released a statement condemning the passage of the bill, saying in part, "Anti-choice Republicans no longer even pretend to respect the law or the women that it protects."[33] Planned Parenthood Southeast president and CEO Staci Fox vowed to take legal action against the state for enacting the bill.[34] Rodney Hall, the general manager of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals expressed concern over the bill because the entertainment industry in the state could lose millions of dollars, "It's going to put a black eye on the state of Alabama. The worst I've seen in my lifetime."[35]

Many of the 2020 U.S. Democratic presidential candidates voiced their opposition to the bill.[36] Gillibrand said the bill was "nothing short of an attack on women's basic human rights."[37] Harris drew connections between the bill and The Handmaid's Tale.[38] U.S. senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar of Massachusetts and Minnesota, respectively, called the bill "dangerous" and "unconstitutional".[39][40] Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter, "Roe v. Wade is settled law and should not be overturned. This choice should remain between a woman and her doctor."[36] Calling the bill unconstitutional, U.S. senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont tweeted that it "disrespects the fundamental right a woman has to make decisions about her own body."[41] South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg wrote that the state legislature was "ignoring science, criminalizing abortion, and punishing women."[36] Cory Booker, the U.S. senator from New Jersey, called the bill "the most direct assault on women's rights and freedoms and ability to control their own lives."[42] Julian Castro, the former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and mayor of San Antonio, stated that the bill was "an all-out attack on women's fundamental right to health care."[36] Former U.S. representative Beto O'Rourke of Texas said the bill was "a radical attack on women across Alabama and America."[36]

Doug Jones, the U.S. Democratic senator from Alabama, condemned the bill and called it "shameful."[43] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying, "This clear and intentional violation of the Constitution directly imperils the health of countless women, and cannot be allowed to stand."[44] Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said the bill was "plainly inhumane" and "ought to be swiftly struck down by the courts."[29] Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York called the bill "a brutal form of oppression."[45]

Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader of the House of Representatives, opposed the bill, stating, "I believe in exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother, and that's what I've voted on."[46] Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said she was "very much opposed to the Alabama law" and that it was "completely inconsistent with Roe v. Wade." Fellow Republican senator Lisa Murkowski was brief in her statement on the bill, "I believe that there need to be exceptions."[47] Senator Mitt Romney of Utah stated that he did not support the bill because there should be exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother.[48] President Donald Trump also distanced himself from the law, citing his support for a potential bill including the same exceptions.[49]

Jena Griswold, the Democratic Secretary of State of Colorado, announced that she was banning work-related travel to Alabama in response to the bill.[50] Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot called on the state's pension system to divest itself from Alabama-based companies because of the bill.[51]

On The 700 Club, conservative televangelist Pat Robertson stated, "It's an extreme law and they want to challenge Roe v. Wade, but my humble view is that this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose."[52] Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren called the bill "too restrictive" and said the ban "forces women into more dangerous methods" of abortion.[53]

Late-night talk show hosts in the United States also reacted to the bill. Stephen Colbert, the host of The Late Show, stated, "I think it’s fair to say that this is the most restrictive law of its kind in America, which is why it barely squeaked by in the Alabama Senate 25–6, with all 25 votes cast in favor coming from Republican men, though it may be the last time those Republican men will be coming for a while." On Full Frontal, Samantha Bee said, "To put it in perspective for you male senators, it would be like if cops showed up every time you miracle whipped into your wife’s good towels and accused you of genocide except different because you never wanted to bring your shame tadpoles to term." The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon said, "Tonight we also have music from Of Monsters and Men. Not only is Of Monsters and Men a great name for a band, but it’s also how most women describe the Alabama Senate."[54]

On Instagram, actress Courteney Cox, a native of Alabama, said she was "proud to call" the state her home, but also "appalled and scared" by the bill and encouraged her followers to donate to the Yellowhammer Fund.[29] In a tweet, singer Lady Gaga wrote, "It is an outrage to ban abortion in Alabama, period, and all the more heinous that it excludes those who have been raped or are experiencing incest, non-consensual or not."[55] Actress Busy Philipps encouraged social media users to use the hashtag "#youknowme" to share their abortion stories in response to the bill's passage.[56] Singer Kacey Musgraves rhetorically asked, "Sooo [sic] what’s gonna happen when one of those Alabama senators knocks up one of his mistresses?"[57] Actor Chris Evans wrote on Twitter that the bill was "absolutely unbelievable" and continued by saying, "If you're not worried about Roe v. Wade, you're not paying attention."[58] Singer John Legend wrote, "These statehouses are waging all-out war on women and their right to control their reproductive decisions. This is awful."[29]

Polling

A previously unreleased poll conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research on the behalf of Planned Parenthood Southeast in 2018 found that 31 percent of people in the state of Alabama would support a bill that would ban abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest.[59]

Notes and references

Notes

  • a The reference incorrectly identifies Tom Butler as a Democrat, but he has been a Republican since 2011.

References

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