Abortion bill most stringent in nation

Legislation makes performing abortion a felony in most cases

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama’s Republican governor signed the most stringent abortion legislation in the nation Wednesday, making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases.

“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,” Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

The bill’s sponsors want to give conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to gut abortion rights nationwide, but Democrats and abortion rights advocates criticized the bill as a slap in the face to women voters.

“It just completely disregards women and the value of women and their voice. We have once again silenced women on a very personal issue,” said Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, a Birmingham Democrat.

Coleman-Madison said she hopes the measure awakens a “sleeping giant” of women voters in the state.

But Republican pollster Chris Kratzer noted that there is no congressional district and likely no legislative district with enough swing voters to put Republicans at serious risk in the state.

“The people who are outraged about this are not the people who are electing these guys, generally speaking, especially when we’re talking about the primary,” he said.

The legislation Alabama senators passed Tuesday would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison for the provider. The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk. Women seeking or undergoing abortions wouldn’t be punished.

Ivey acknowledged Wednesday that the measure may be unenforceable in the short term.

“The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur,” Ivey said.

Rep. Terri Collins, the bill’s sponsor, said she believes the bill reflects the beliefs of the majority of the state electorate.

“I’ve heard from lots of women in the state who are extremely pro-life and they’re very supportive,” Collins said.