Alabama abortion law – when was the bill signed into law and what are the conditions of the abortion ban?
ALABAMA governor Kay Ivey has signed into law a near-total ban on abortions, which includes cases of rape and incest.
The move means the US state now has one of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country, outlawing performing the procedure at any stage of pregnancy with a jail sentence of up to 99 years.
When was the bill passed?
Lawmakers in the Senate approved the near-total ban on abortions on May 14, 2019, by 25 to six with Ivey signing the bill the day after.
"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," Ivey said.
Opponents though have said previously they would challenge the measure in federal court if it becomes law.
Democrats and abortion rights advocates have blasted the bill as a slap in the face to women voters.
The bill was drafted by Eric Johnston, the founder and president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, who has spent 30 years trying to ban abortion.
Should it be passed it would be in direct conflict with the previous ruling in the Roe vs Wade case in 1973 which established a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy.
What are the conditions of the abortion law?
The legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalises doctors for carrying out the procedure.
Any medics charged with carrying out the procedure could face up to 99 years behind bars.
Anyone found even attempting to perform an abortion could face a 10-year prison sentence.
Women who receive an abortion would not be prosecuted.
The legislation even includes cases of rape and incest, including underage children, but does give an exception where the mother’s life is at risk.
Opponents of the move say it would just drive the procedure underground, putting women’s lives at risk, and disproportionately affect poor and minority groups in the state.
Democrat Senator Linda Coleman-Madison, just one of four women in the 35-member Senate said: “We want abortions to be safe, and we want them to be few, but it should be legal, because there will be abortions.”
She added: “The people who have the wherewithal will fly out of state.
“Not everyone can do that.”
Republican Senator Clyde Chambliss, who sponsored the bill, said: “When God creates the miracle of life inside a woman’s womb, it is not our place as human beings to extinguish that life.”
Abortion opponents in several states are currently seeking to challenge access to the procedure.
Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected – which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy.
The Alabama bill goes further by seeking to outlaw abortion entirely.
Unlike measures in other states, Alabama would punish only the abortion provider – not the woman receiving the abortion.
Tough stance on abortion
Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia recently have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy.
The Alabama bill goes further by seeking to ban abortion outright.
Abortion rights advocates vowed swift legal action.
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