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Alabama State Senate floor shouting match, chaos over abortion bill



The floor of the Alabama State Senate broke out into chaos on Thursday when Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth tried to rush approval of a motion removing rape and incest exceptions from a law that would outlaw all abortions, leading to the bill being tabled pending a vote next week.

The law, HB314, would make it a class A felony for a doctor to perform an abortion, which carries a maximum penalty of 99 years in prison, and a class C felony to attempt an abortion.

If passed with the amendment that was the source of the disagreement, the bill would only permit abortions in cases where pregnancy would pose a threat to the mother’s life. It would also criminalize only abortion providers and not patients themselves.

When Ainsworth tried to pass a motion by voice vote to remove the bill’s exceptions for cases or rape or incest, two Democratic state senators forcefully stepped in to table the measure’s passage.

“That was no motion, you didn’t even make a motion!” Senator Bobby Singleton yelled across the chamber at Ainsworth.

At that point, Ainsworth recognized Sen. Vivian Figures to make a point of order, upon which she requested that the chamber take a roll-call vote on the measure, which had previously been discussed by the chamber.

“I know you want this bill to pass and you’re going to get your way, but at least treat us fairly and do it the right way. That’s all I ask. That’s all that women in this state ask, both Democrats and Republicans. If there has been a motion made, we should have a vote on that motion,” Figures said.

The chamber tabled the motion to enact the proposed amendment to remove exceptions for rape and incest, postponing a vote until next week, when the bill is expected to pass and be signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey.

Alabama is the most recent state this year to pass extreme restrictions on abortion. On Tuesday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Tuesday officially signed HB481, a so-called “heartbeat bill” that aims to ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at 6 weeks, into law.

Read more: Georgia governor signs ‘heartbeat bill’ restricting abortion access, setting the stage for a court battle over the law

Almost immediately, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Reproductive Rights announced they planned to sue Georgia over the law.

So far, no state has successfully implemented a 6-week abortion ban. Iowa’s attempt an enacting a “heartbeat bill” was struck down by a state court, and North Dakota’s was struck down by a federal court for violating Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision which protects the right to abortion

The Governors of Mississippi, Ohio, and Kentucky have passed similar 6-week abortion ban legislation, all of which are currently being challenged in court, and a 15-week ban passed by Mississippi was struck down by a federal judge.

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