MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The Alabama House passed a bill requiring doctors to attempt to save the life of a baby born alive during an attempted abortion or face up to 20 years in prison.
The “born alive” bill passed 66-18 Wednesday along party lines, Al.com reported. It will now move to the Alabama Senate. Sponsored by Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, the bill would make doctors legally obligated to provide the same level of care to an infant that survives an abortion as they would to any other newborn, according to The Hill.
Physicians convicted of breaking the law would face at least 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
The bill’s passage came one week after Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill banning nearly all abortions, not leaving exceptions for pregnancies caused by incest or rape. During a late-night debate before the vote, Shaver insisted the bill isn’t an abortion bill.
Rep. Tracy Estes, R-Winfield, agreed with Shaver and called the measure a “common decency issue,” the Advertiser reported.
Democratic lawmakers argued that the bill isn’t necessary, and pressed Shaver for statistics.
“Here in the state of Alabama, we don’t do late-term abortions,” Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, said. “The situation that the sponsor talked about, we don’t have documented cases in the state of Alabama. I was just asking for the data. And I think it’s irresponsible for us as a Legislature to pass laws when we don’t have the data that actually backs it up.”
Democrats also read letters from two separate doctors: a pediatrician and an OB-GYN.
“Not one of the three Alabama clinics performing elective terminations will end a pregnancy where the infant scans (by ultrasound) to 22 weeks or beyond,” the pediatrician wrote. “One imposes a 15-week ceiling. In Alabama, terminations are not performed when the limit of viability is surpassed. Thus, to medical providers, HB 491 is a fallacy, actually, a painful joke.”
Shaver responded by questioning the accuracy of record-keeping practices at abortion clinics. She added that women may lie about how far along they are in their pregnancy when they seek an abortion.
“Even though we don’t do late-term abortions in Alabama, the situation still exists to where it could still happen,” she said.
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