Alabama Pushes Four Extreme Anti-Choice Bills

This week, the Alabama House held hearings on four new anti-choice bills under consideration.  The expansive attack on women’s rights posed by these bills is an alarming violation of basic Republican principles and illustrates a complete lack of concern for social or financial consequences on the part of extremist ideologues.

Of the four Alabama bills, two would impose extended waiting periods on women seeking abortion.  This particular infringement often imposes the most serious burden on working women, who must bear the extra cost and take extra time off in order to comply with the state mandate, even when they are sure of their decision.  One of the two waiting period bills also includes a requirement that women who seek an abortion because of a lethal condition of the fetus are encouraged to pursue hospice options instead of abortion.  Not only is this a sickening government encroachment into one of the most difficult and personal situations imaginable, but it also blatantly disregards the medical expertise of physicians.

The most controversial of the bills at this point, though, is one that would make it illegal to perform an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.  This point typically occurs at six or seven weeks, before many women even realize they are pregnant, meaning that the bill would effectively outlaw most abortion.  Of course, this blatantly flies in the face of U.S. Supreme Court precedent, but anti-choice activists remain unconcerned about the women they seek to control or the costs they will incur unsuccessfully defending these bills in court.  The author of the heartbeat bill, who is not a doctor, has explained that his goal is to alter the definition of viability.  Viability is medical term that refers to the point at which a fetus could survive outside the womb, typically around twenty-four weeks, but the Alabama legislature appears intent on dictating medical practice.

Lawmakers in Alabama are also considering a fourth bill, which would increase government involvement in the judicial bypass system for minors.  The system is designed for exceptional circumstances in which minors cannot obtain the permission of their parents and must prove their maturity to a judge in order to obtain an abortion.  Under the new bill, more documentation and requirements would be implemented and more government officials would become involved in the process, including a lawyer for the unborn fetus.  Many people have expressed concern that the law would decrease confidentiality and potentially safety for the young women using the system.

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