Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey Signs Controversial Abortion Ban Bill Into Law

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a into law a ban on nearly all abortions Wednesday.
Hal Yeager/Alabama Governor’s Office via AP

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a controversial bill that bans nearly all abortions into law Wednesday evening.

It’s considered the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. The law makes it a crime for doctors to perform abortions at any stage of a pregnancy, unless a woman’s life is threatened or there is a lethal fetal anomaly.

Under the new law, doctors in the state face felony jail time up to 99 years if convicted. But a woman would not be held criminally liable for having an abortion.

The law does not take effect for several months.

The Alabama Senate passed the bill Tuesday evening. The state House had already overwhelmingly approved the legislation. It’s part of a broader anti-abortion strategy to prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the right to abortion.

There are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, and that was a sticking point when the Alabama Senate first tried to debate the measure last Thursday. The Republican-majority chamber adjourned in dramatic fashion when leaders tried to strip a committee amendment that would have added an exception for cases of rape or incest.

Sponsors insist they wanted to limit exceptions because the bill is designed to push the idea that a fetus is a person with rights, in a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to abortion.

“Human life has rights, and when someone takes those rights, that’s when we as government have to step in,” said Republican Clyde Chambliss, the Senate sponsor of the abortion ban.

The amendment has divided Republicans. Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, who presides over the Senate, posted on Twitter that his position is simple — “Abortion is murder.” But other Senate leaders have insisted that there be exceptions for rape and incest.