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US: Alabama Senate passes law to ban abortion

The Alabama Senate passed a bill to ban nearly all abortions. The state House had already overwhelmingly approved the legislation. It’s part of a broader anti-abortion strategy to prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the right to abortion.

It would be one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the United States. The bill would make it a crime for doctors to perform abortions at any stage of a pregnancy, unless a woman’s life is threatened or in case of a lethal fetal anomaly.

The vote was 25-6, with one abstention.

Doctors in the state would face felony jail time up to 99 years if convicted. But a woman would not be held criminally liable for having an abortion.

There are no exceptions in the bill for cases of rape or incest, and that was a sticking point when the Alabama Senate first tried to debate the measure last Thursday.

The Republican-majority chamber adjourned in dramatic fashion when leaders tried to strip a committee amendment that would have added an exception for cases of rape or incest.

Sponsors insist they want to limit exceptions because the bill is designed to push the idea that a fetus is a person with rights, in a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to abortion.

“Human life has rights, and when someone takes those rights, that’s when we as government have to step in,” said Republican Clyde Chambliss, the Senate sponsor of the abortion ban.

The amendment has divided Republicans. Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, who presides over the Senate, posted on Twitter that his position is simple — “Abortion is murder.” But other Senate leaders have insisted that there be exceptions for rape and incest.

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