The Alabama Senate voted an almost complete abortion ban Tuesday, challenging the Roe v. Wade case which gave women the right to choose whether to end a pregnancy.
The new measure bars abortions at all stages of pregnancy and criminalizes the performance of the procedure by doctors, who could face a prison sentence of up to 99 years. Rape victims are likewise not excluded from the ban and the only exception is made for cases when the mother’s life is at serious risk.
The issue has sparked fierce debate among lawmakers, particularly regarding the abortion ban for cases of rape or incest.
The New York Times informs that the measure, approved by the House last month, will now be sent to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk for signing. The governor has not yet said publicly that she would sign it, but fellow Republicans in the state expect her to do so.
A spokesperson for Ivey said Tuesday night that the governor would “withhold comment until she has had a chance to thoroughly review the final version of the bill that passed.”
The measure is certain to be challenged in court should it become law. However, although supporters expect it to be blocked by a lower court, they hope that the measure will force Supreme Court justices to reconsider the Roe v. Wade case, allowing Alabama to enforce the law.
“Until now, there was no prospect of reversing Roe,” said the founder of an Alabama pro-life coalition.
Opponents of the measure argue that enacting it would only result in women and girls doing the procedure illegally, thus putting their lives in danger.
“We want abortions to be safe, and we want them to be few, but it should be legal because there will be abortions,” said Democratic Senator Linda Coleman-Madison. “The people who have the wherewithal will fly out of state. Not everyone can afford to do that,” she added, underscoring the fact that the measure will put poor Alabamians at a disadvantage.
Other South and Midwest states have moved to introduce similar bills, while a number of Democratic-leaning states have taken steps to ensure the right to abortion.