Though legal challenges likely await it, many state representatives from the Wiregrass supported a bill that criminalizes abortion in most situations.
The state House of Representatives passed House Bill 314, which makes abortions in most situations a Class A felony, with a 74-3 vote late Tuesday night. State representatives from the Wiregrass Paul Lee, Wes Allen, Jeff Sorrells, Rhett Marques and Steve Clouse all voted for the bill while Rep. Dexter Grimsley (D-Newville) abstained.
The legislation outlaws abortions except in situations where the mother’s health is in jeopardy. The House tabled an amendment that would have protected abortions in cases of rape or incest before passing the bill.
Lee (R-Dothan), who chairs the House’s Health Committee, said he expects tenets regarding rape and incest could be addressed later – especially if the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion, Roe v. Wade, is overturned in the future. According to Planned Parenthood, Alabama is the 33rd state to initiate legislation that bans abortions in some form.
Lee expressed excitement about House bill 314’s passage on Wednesday.
“We’re looking at killing 50 million babies since the passage of Roe v. Wade – future presidents, future schoolteachers,” he said. “We need to get this passed. Then we need to focus on making it easier for adoptions.”
Lee said the bill split down party lines in committee meetings, but with Republicans controlling a majority in committees, it reached the House floor for consideration. The bill will now advance to the Senate, where Sen. Donnie Chesteen (R-Geneva) plans to support the legislation.
Chesteen sits on the Healthcare Committee, which will have to give its approval before the full Senate considers it.
“It’s a good bill. I feel it will get to the Senate floor with a favorable recommendation from our committee,” he said.
Since the bill contradicts federal law established through the Roe v. Wade, the State of Alabama will likely face lawsuits contesting it should the legislation pass. Lee and Chesteen acknowledged that possibility but noted they believe it will be worth the fight.
“I’m sure it’s going to face some challenges,” Chesteen said. “I just want to be on the right side of history, and I’m sure my colleagues do, too.”
“I believe this issue is worth the potential legal battle,” Lee added. “What better to fight for than life?”