- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A bill proposed in the Alabama Legislature could end up banning most abortions if approved.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur has proposed legislation to prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Collins said the bill to her is a “common sense” approach. The end of a person’s life, Collin’s said, is defined by the absence of a heartbeat.

“Why would we not define the start of life when we can hear a heartbeat?” Collins said.

Nikema Williams, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, called the bill “unreasonable, dangerous, and blatantly unconstitutional.” Williams said the bill would ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, before a woman might know she’s pregnant.

“If passed, this bill would be the most restrictive abortion law in the country and have devastating consequences for the women and families of Alabama,” Williams said.

A federal judge last year ruled a similar North Dakota law unconstitutional. Collins says she wants to work on language that the courts might find acceptable.

The Alabama House of Representatives approved similar legislation last year, but the bill did not get a vote in the Alabama Senate. Prospects for passage this year are uncertain.

“As long as abortion is legal in the United States, Alabama conservatives will continue fighting tooth and nail to preserve and protect the lives of the unborn. A heartbeat is convincing evidence of a viable life that deserves to be defended, and ignoring that fact borders on being immoral,” Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said in a statement about the bill.

The Ohio House of Representatives last month approved a fetal heartbeat bill following an emotional debate that included a lawmaker disclosing she had an abortion after being raped.

Nationally, abortion opponents have been mixed on the fruitfulness of supporting legislation that is a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Cheryl Ciamarra, director of Alabama Citizens for Life, said the organization did not write the legislation but will support the proposal. The bill does not prescribe a method for detecting a heartbeat.

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