The Alabama House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure Tuesday that would ban most abortions in the state.
Alabama lawmakers in the House voted, 74-3, to approve the legislation after most Democrats walked out of the chamber, refusing to vote.
The Human Life Protection Act, HB 314, would make abortion a Class A felony and attempted abortion a Class C felony. The only exceptions are in cases in which “abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”
The measure would make performing an abortion punishable by a minimum of ten years for an abortionist.
“The heart of this bill is to confront a decision that was made by the courts in 1973 [Roe v. Wade] that said the baby in a womb is not a person,” said Republican state Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill in the state House, reported the Associated Press. She added that while such a ban would likely be struck down by lower courts, the goal is to get to the Supreme Court.
Republicans in the state House applauded after the measure passed.
Applause in Alabama House after abortion bill passes 73-4. Most Democrats walked off the floor before the vote. Bill advances to the Senate. Makes abortion providers felons. Doctors convicted would face 10 plus years in prison for performing abortions. @WVTM13 pic.twitter.com/KmeQX3dyGO
— Jeff Eliasoph (@JeffWVTM13) May 1, 2019
The bill now heads to the state Senate where Republican Sen. Ben Albritton filed a matching bill.
Democrat state Rep. John Rogers chastised his colleagues for their decision to walk out of the chamber, reported Yellow Hammer News.
“When you’re opposed to something, stand there and fight it,” Rogers said. “I’m not leaving and walking out … I’m not scared of a fight.”
CBS News noted Collins and Albritton received criticism for inserting into the text of each bill a comparison between unborn lives lost due to abortion and those lost during the Holocaust, in Stalin’s gulags, during China’s “Great Leap Forward,” under the Khmer Rouge, and during the Rwandan genocide.
The bill’s text states:
All of these are widely acknowledged to have been crimes against humanity. By comparison, more than 50 million babies have been aborted in the United States since the Roe decision in 1973, more than three times the number who were killed in German death camps, Chinese purges, Stalin’s gulags, Cambodian killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined.
The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights research group, and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish advocacy group, both condemned the comparisons to the Holocaust and other genocides.
“It’s outrageously offensive to callously use the memory of the men, women, and children who lost their lives in the [H]olocaust and other genocides to argue against women’s right to self-determination,” said Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel for state policy at Guttmacher. “The anti-abortion movement relies on hyperbole, ad hominem attacks, and medically inaccurate language to manipulate the emotions of the public.”
According to Guttmacher, between 2010-2014, “an estimated 56 million induced abortions occurred each year worldwide.”
“This number represents an increase from 50 million annually during 1990–1994, mainly because of population growth,” the abortion-rights research group reported.
Jake Hyman, spokesperson for the pro-abortion rights ADL, said, “invoking the Holocaust to advance any policy position is totally out of bounds.”
“It belittles the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis and misappropriates a profoundly tragic historical event for political purposes,” he told CBS News.
The ADL sent a letter to Alabama’s state legislature seeking opposition to the bill, referring to it as “deeply offensive.”
The letter said the legislation “contains language that is offensive to the Jewish Community and infringes on Alabamians’ religious freedom.”
“Nobody has a corner on being offended just because their people were killed,” A. Eric Johnston, an attorney who heads Alabama’s Pro-Life Coalition and who authored the bills, said in response. “It’s offensive to say that [this bill] is offensive.”