Alabama passes toughest abortion Bill in U.S.

Doctors who terminate a pregnancy, even in the case of rape, could be jailed

Published - May 15, 2019 10:01 pm IST - Miami

In this file photo taken on January 18, 2019, pro-choice activists hold signs alongside anti-abortion activists participating in the "March for Life"

In this file photo taken on January 18, 2019, pro-choice activists hold signs alongside anti-abortion activists participating in the "March for Life"

The Alabama Senate has passed the most restrictive abortion Bill in the U.S., which places a near-total ban on the termination of pregnancy — even in cases of rape and incest — and could punish doctors who perform the procedure with life in prison.

The text passed by the Republican-led Senate on Tuesday has been sent to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk for signature into law and, if approved, is expected to trigger a legal battle. Under the Bill, performing an abortion is a crime that could land doctors who perform it in prison for 10 to 99 years. Abortions would only be legal if the life of the mother is in danger or the foetus has a fatal condition. The largest human rights defence organisation in the United States, the ACLU, promised to file a lawsuit to block its implementation.

The Republican-led Senate approved the measure by 25 votes to six on Tuesday. Governor Ivey has not yet said whether she will sign the Bill.

Unlike the doctors carrying out the procedures, women who undergo abortions would not be prosecuted. Attempts to introduce an amendment providing exceptions for pregnancies conceived due to rape or incest were shut down by the State Senate. The Bill’s backers have expressly said they want to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Now that the top U.S. court has a conservative majority in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election, some Republicans want to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised women’s right to abortion.

Several other conservative States are weighing or have recently implemented harsh anti-abortion laws.

The Governor of the U.S. State of Georgia last week signed into law a ban on abortion from the moment a foetal heartbeat is detected, becoming the sixth US. State to outlaw abortion after six weeks of gestation.

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