Alabama’s legislation aimed at the heart of national abortion rights has moved closer to final approval and its goal of a Roe v. Wade today.

The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on a 7-2 vote after a public hearing.

The bill would make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion in Alabama. The committee’s approval this morning puts the bill in position for a vote Thursday by the state Senate. This would pass the bill to Governor Kay Ivey, who could sign it.

The committee adopted an amendment allowing abortions in cases of pregnancies caused by rape or incest. The amendment, by Senator Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, was carried by voice vote.

The committee then approved the bill, along with the Sense. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham; and Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, casting both negative votes. Senator Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, voted in favor of the bill; Will Barfoot, R-Montgomery; Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville; Arthur Orr, R-Decatur; Larry Stutts, R-Sheffield; Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, the chairman; and Whatley.

The adult cam sites came after a public hearing in which five people voted against the bill and four in favor.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, the godfather, urged the committee not to add any amendments, saying the original bill would provide the clearest challenge to Roe v. Wade on the issue of the unborn child’s right to life. The bill already provided an exception to allow abortions in cases of serious risk to the health of the mother. Collins opposed adding the exception for rape and incest.

“Accepting another amendment that weakens the argument, or diverts the message from the argument, which is that the baby in the womb is a person, dilutes the whole message,” Collins said.

Whatley said he didn’t think the bill could pass in the Senate without the rape and incest exception.

“I believe this bill will not survive in the Senate without amendment,” Whatley said. “And that’s the legislative process. Today we heard “no amendments, no amendments”. However, that is the process. Amendments are the process. “

The full Senate will consider the amendment again when the bill hits the Senate floor on Thursday.

At the public hearing, one of the opponents to the bill who spoke was Samantha Brakely, who said she became pregnant after being raped by a colleague in 2017.

“When I found out that I was pregnant, I couldn’t begin to describe the words, the emotions that I felt,” Brakely told the committee. “I knew I couldn’t carry this pregnancy to term. I knew it.”

Brakely said her life would have been in danger if she hadn’t been able to choose to have an abortion.

“If the abortion weren’t legal, I would still have one, somewhere, one way or another,” Brakely said. “Or, I just wouldn’t be there. Because there’s no way I can carry my rapist’s child. There is no way. And I want you all to know that by the time you decide on this. Please, please, I’m begging you, please don’t take my choice away. Please don’t remove so many other choices from young women. We must have access to safe and legal abortion. We need it. We must have it.

Samantha Brakely addresses the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose a bill to make abortion a crime in Alabama. (Mike Cason/[email protected])

Christy Harmon, pregnancy counselor for Lifeline Children’s Services, an adoption, orphan care and foster care organization, said there is no shortage of families willing to adopt children of women with unwanted pregnancies in difficult circumstances.

Harmon described several examples of women she counseled – a young professional woman carrying a baby with spina bifida who would need extreme medical attention, a homeless girl who was a prostitute and had used illegal drugs during her pregnancy. , and a 42 year old girl. old woman who lived in a trailer park, was on methadone and had just been released from prison.

“In each of these situations, we didn’t have one, but several families came together and said they were ready to adopt these babies born to women in difficult medical and social situations,” Harmon said. “Several families.

“Every day, we see the positive impact on the women who make life by affirming parental or adoptive choices. And most importantly, we see the humanity of the unborn child and their moral right to be protected. “

After the public hearing, committee members had the opportunity to comment on the bill. Coleman-Madison, a Democratic senator from Birmingham, spoke out against it. She said she remembered from her high school years that girls in her neighborhood didn’t have access to abortion, unlike those who had money.

“The bottom line is that when the dust settles, it will always happen. The people who can afford, the money, the means, they will still have abortions, ”said Coleman-Madison.

Coleman-Madison spoke of the state’s problems such as the historically high rate of infant mortality and other health issues and the closure of rural hospitals. She said men would think differently if they knew what it was like to bear a child and give birth.

“I am adamantly opposed to the concept of regulating a person’s body,” Coleman-Madison said. “You can’t find any bills that regulate men’s personal body parts.

“I have a few ideas. First of all, the Bible says if any part of your body offends you, what do you do? Cut it off. In that case, we didn’t come up with a bill on them. people who rape, to castrate. Maybe this is a question we need to look into. Or if a person gets a girl pregnant out of wedlock or under age, maybe this is something we need to think about . It becomes a different thing when it’s your part of the body. “

Coleman-Madison proposed an amendment saying that if a woman was forced to give birth because of the abortion ban, the state would bear the cost of prenatal and medical care for the child for up to the age of 3, the cost of mental and psychological care of the woman. and the cost of birth. The amendment failed on a voice vote.

Senator Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, handles the bill in the Senate.

“Life is precious. And unborn children, they deserve the protection of their lives just like a baby right after birth,” Chambliss said Tuesday.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed Bill 74-3, with support from the Republican majority and opposition from the Democrats, who proposed amendments but mostly avoided the vote.

Chambliss, as the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, said the goal was to trigger legal action that could overturn the Roe v. Wade on the basis of the concept that the unborn child has the right to life.

“We have to address this question of personality,” Chambliss said. “Does the Constitution talk about this, not that? So if we can come to that question, then we think the Supreme Court should take that up and answer that question.

Chambliss said on Tuesday his first thoughts were to keep the bill as is, but that could change.

“I am studying this issue in detail right now with the various lawyers and trying to get all the comments,” Chambliss said Tuesday afternoon. “On the surface, that would be my hope. But we work thanks to the contribution of the various lawyers. And then, of course, my Senate colleagues will have their say on this.

Senator Malika Sanders-Fortier de Selma, a lawyer, first-time senator and one of five Democrats on the 12-member Judiciary Committee, said abortion was a difficult issue requiring thoughtful debate.

“I believe in the human rights of unborn children,” said Sanders-Fortier. “And I believe in the human rights of women. And as I was growing up in my government class, my teacher told me in Selma High School, my government teacher told me that this is how freedom works, that a person’s rights end where the others are starting.

“I think that’s the only context where it’s a very difficult problem because it’s so layered. You have women, whose bodies harbor babies. Every human being should have a say in it. his body. But in this particular case it is not. just his body is a problem, it is also the life of another human being.

“So I think what I would rather see, rather than a bill like this, is that our state has a conversation that is not a political conversation about how we protect both. the rights of women and unborn babies. And I know for some people that it is impossible. I just don’t see it that way.

The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.

This story was edited at 1:22 p.m. to add Senator Tom Whatley to the list of those voting for the bill.

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