MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Doctors would face prison sentences if they fail to treat babies “born alive” after an attempted abortion, under a bill approved Tuesday night by the Alabama House of Representatives.
The measure patterned after legislation in Texas was approved after more than an hour of contentious debate. It comes a week after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation seeking to outlaw almost all abortions in the state.
Representatives voted 66-18 for the bill that now moves to the Alabama Senate.
The bill by Republican Rep. Ginny Shaver of Leesburg says doctors would face 20-year prison sentences for failing to provide reasonable care to save a “child born alive after an abortion or attempted abortion.”
“I do not see how anyone with a conscience could oppose rendering aid to a child born alive,” said Shaver.
Shaver said the bill is named for a woman who survived a late abortion attempt in California.
Alabama doesn’t allow abortions at or after 22 weeks of pregnancy as measured by the woman’s last menstrual period.
Democrats called it an attempt to demonize abortion providers and abortion and argued there is no record of such instances in Alabama.
“You already know that we do not do late term abortions in the state of Alabama,” Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, said. “This does not happen.”
Shaver could not provide statistics of instances of people surviving attempting abortions in Alabama. However, she said she believes it could, and has happened in the state.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, babies born before 23 weeks of pregnancy do not survive with very rare exceptions.
Republicans voted to cut off debate and force a vote on the bill shortly before midnight.
The contentious debate came a week after Ivey approved the most stringent abortion law in the nation- making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases unless necessary for the mother’s health. The law provides no exception for rape and incest.
The abortion ban is certain to be blocked by the courts. Alabama is part of a wave of conservative states seeking to mount new legal challenges to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
This story has been corrected; Shaver said “conscience,” not “conscious.”
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