Thursday May 23, 2019

Alabama Lawmakers Passes Near-Total Ban on Abortion

Abortion opponents in several states are seeking to challenge abortion access, emboldened by the U.S. Supreme Court's new conservative justices

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Senator Clyde Chambliss (R), center, is seen with other senators during a state Senate vote on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the United States at the Alabama Legislature in Montgomery, Alabama, May 14, 2019. VOA

Lawmakers in the southeastern U.S. state of Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortion Tuesday, sending what would be the nation’s most stringent law to the state’s Republican governor.

The Republican-dominated Senate voted 25-6 to make performing it at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the abortion provider. The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk.

Senators rejected an attempt to add an exception for rape and incest. Supporters said the bill is designed to spark a court case that might prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationally.

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FILE – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey speaks to supporters after winning the Republican nomination for Governor of Alabama at the Renaissance Hotel, June 5, 2018, in Montgomery, Ala. VOA

The spokeswoman for Governor Kay Ivey said she intends to withhold comment until she has had a chance to thoroughly review the final version of the bill.

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Planned Parenthood Southeast Director Staci Fox issued a statement calling the bill’s passage “a dark day for women in Alabama and across this country. Alabama politicians will forever live in infamy for this vote.”

Abortion opponents in several states are seeking to challenge abortion access, emboldened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s new conservative justices. Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. (VOA)

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Dozens of US Abortion Rights Protester Rally across Nationwide

The demonstrations targeted a recent array of anti-abortion laws being adopted by conservative state legislatures

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A group gathers to protest abortion restrictions at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, May 21, 2019. VOA

Dozens of protests supporting abortion rights unfolded across the United States on Tuesday, including one held outside the Supreme Court in Washington.

The demonstrations targeted a recent array of anti-abortion laws being adopted by conservative state legislatures that have voiced the hope that the ensuing legal battles over the strict abortion curbs will eventually push the court to overturn its landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the country.

abortion rights
Gracie Burke, 19, center, a student at American University, joins other in a protest against abortion bans, May 21, 2019, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. VOA

The laws have imposed various restrictions, often limiting abortions to the first few weeks of a woman’s pregnancy and sometimes before a woman would know she was pregnant.

The StopTheBans protests were sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and other abortion rights groups.

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Supporters of abortion rights rally against recently passed restrictions on abortions in the Statehouse rotunda, May 21, 2019, at the Nebraska Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska. VOA

“Across the country,” the groups said, “we are seeing a new wave of extreme bans on abortion, stripping away reproductive freedom and representing an all-out assault on abortion access.”

They described the new laws adopted or headed toward enactment in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri and elsewhere as President Donald Trump’s “anti-choice movement … and it’s terrifying, particularly for women of color and low-income women who are most affected by these bans.”

abortion rights
Protesters for women’s rights march to the Alabama Capitol to protest a law passed last week making abortion a felony in nearly all cases with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, May 19, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala. VOA

In the southern state of Alabama, virtually all abortions were banned, an action that Trump, and some other Republicans who otherwise support most abortion restrictions, have said went too far. Trump two decades ago described himself as “very pro-choice” in support of abortion rights, but last weekend said he approves ending pregnancies only if they occurred because of rape or incest or if the life of the mother is endangered.

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As security guards the steps of the Supreme Court, Kristin Mink of Silver Spring, Md., holds her three-week-old daughter by a sign she brought that says, “I exist because my Mom had an abortion,” as Mink joined a protest against abortion bans, May 21, 2019. VOA

At the Supreme Court, several hundred abortion-rights supporters staged a protest against the new laws, most of which have yet to take affect and are being challenged in court suits as not complying with the high court’s 1973 decision.

Several Democratic presidential contenders looking to be the party’s nominee against Trump in the November 2020 election joined the protesters.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during a protest against abortion bans, May 21, 2019, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. VOA

“We are not going to allow them to move our country backward,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar told the crowd through a megaphone.

Conservatives pushing for the abortion restrictions have been emboldened by Trump’s appointment of two conservative justices to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who they believe will join three other conservatives on the court to make a 5-4 majority to overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision. The 1973 Roe decision upheld the right to an abortion.

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It could be months before a new abortion rights case reaches the Supreme Court, but it is possible a new ruling could land in the midst of next year’s presidential election campaign. (VOA)