On May 6, the Alabama House committee gave the green light to three bills that seek to restrict reproductive rights for women, specifically regarding abortions in the state.
The first bill, HB 405 sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur), is better known as “The Fetal Heartbeat Act” and it prohibits physicians from performing an abortion after a heartbeat has been detected in the fetus. The only exception to this legislation would be if the mother’s life were in danger; according to news reports, the bill does not make an exceptions in the case of rape or incest.
The second bill, HB 491 sponsored by Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Birmingham), is called The Health Care Rights of Conscience Act. This bill would allow any healthcare professionals the ability to abstain from performing in medical practices that violate their moral and religious beliefs; this would primarily pertain to abortions, but would also be extended to sterilization, human embryonic stem cell research, and human cloning.
The last bill, HB 527 sponsored by Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle) is what many pro-choice advocates believe to be the most bizarre and unnecessary of the three bills; it would prohibit abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of a school building (which is the standard distance that registered sex offenders must keep from school limits).
HB 527 is backed by pro-life supporters, and according to Madison County Assistant District Attorney Bob Becher, it isn’t safe to allow abortion clinics so close to schools.
“I have seen the signs that are held up with pictures of aborted fetuses [and] I have seen the confrontations,” Becher told Alabama lawmakers, although he neglected to mention that the people holding graphic signs outside of the Huntsville Alabama Women’s Center (located across the street from the Academy of Academics and Arts) are the very pro-lifers who are backing the bill.
Additionally, the Huntsville facility is the only abortion clinic in the entire state of Alabama.
Nevertheless, all three of these bills passed through the House committee and will now be presented for a full House vote, where it’s likely that they will pass in the GOP-majority House.
It seems likely that this bill will affect the health of young adults more so than any other age group; women tend to be the most fertile, and most likely to conceive, between the ages of 20 and 24.
Currently, no local news sources have addressed the possibility of increased illegal abortions, should these bills pass, nor is there information about the economic impact of forcing more young women out of the classroom and workplace in order to carry pregnancies to term.