MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - As the Alabama legislature on Wednesday reached the close of its session, tempers flared in the House of Representatives over a pair of abortion bills.
The House of Representatives ultimately passed both bills. One would shutter any abortion clinic within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school. The other would ban a commonly used second trimester abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, or D&E.
Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard twice called for security to the chamber in the final hours of the legislative session as the Democrats opposing the bills said the Republican-held chamber was unfairly blocking their debate.
“You have no right to continue to cut out debate,” Democratic Rep. Mary Moore said. “That’s what the process is all about. That’s what makes democracy different than dictatorships.”
After Hubbard attempted to move forward with a floor vote on the first abortion bill, members of the House Black Caucus gathered in the chamber well to sing several refrains of “We Shall Overcome.”
Hubbard called for security when he said members couldn’t hear for the floor vote. Shouts erupted when Republican Rep. Mike Ball entered the well amid the singing to speak with caucus members. Hubbard again called for security, but no one was escorted from the chamber.
Moore later said the singing was not “entertainment,” but a reference to the events many black legislators experienced growing up in Alabama. She said she was “embarrassed” to see fellow legislators laughing at the song.
“We were not entertaining you,” Moore said in an emotional speech from the floor. “That goes back to the old minstrel shows … We weren’t here to entertain anybody singing. You haven’t walked in my shoes.”
House Black Caucus Chair Rep. John Knight called the cloture motions, which limit debate or discussion over a bill, “muzzle tactics.”
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