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Alabama state Senate passes near-total abortion ban, the strictest in the US
JC News|May. 15, 2019
Alabama’s state Senate has passed a bill to outlaw all abortions with the exception only of protecting the mother’s health.
The nation’s strictest abortion law was approved by the US state’s Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday.
It was passed by 25 votes to six.
The bill now needs to be approved by Republican Governor Kay Ivey, generally a strong opponent of abortion, who has withheld comment on whether she will sign it.
The 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 which have vowed to sue.
Legislation to restrict abortion rights has been introduced this year in 16 states, four of whose governors have signed bills banning abortion if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected.
But the Alabama bill goes further, banning abortions at any time.
Those performing abortions would be committing a felony, punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison, although a woman who receives an abortion would not be held criminally liable.
The Republican-controlled Alabama Senate also defeated a Democratic amendment that would have allowed legal abortions for women and girls impregnated by rape and incest.
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Anti-abortion advocates know any laws they pass are certain to be challenged, and courts this year have blocked a restrictive Kentucky law and another in Iowa passed last year.
But supporters of the Alabama ban said the right to life of the unborn child transcends other rights, an idea they would like tested.
Republican Senator Clyde Chambliss, arguing in favour of the Alabama bill, said the whole point was "so that we can go directly to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe versus Wade."
Just this year, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have outlawed abortion after a doctor can detect an embryonic heartbeat.
Opponents call the "heartbeat" legislation a virtual ban because embryonic cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks, before a woman may be aware she is pregnant.
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