Ten days ago, Alabama reproductive freedom activist Mia Raven appeared on the Alabama State House steps to speak about HB405, the new ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and other bills designed to inhibit reproductive health care access (see video). Raven will be back at the State House this Wednesday to voice her opposition in a meeting of the House Health Committee.
Not only are such laws consistently found unconstitutional by federal courts, as a practical matter they require abortion providers to insert a transvaginal ultrasound probe all the way into a woman’s vagina in order to detect any fetal heartbeat, making them widely derided as ‘rape by the state’ bills.
Despite the unpopularity of this type of legislation even with opponents of abortion, Alabama lawmakers have tried to pass an ultrasound mandate for abortion access since at least 2012.
HB405 is hardly the only anti-abortion legislation in Alabama this session, either. Another bill, HB527, would require a 2,000-foot ‘buffer zone’ between clinics providing abortion services and the nearest school, equating women who access reproductive health care with sex offenders.
“We are not surprised to see this type of bill brought forth and are always ready for their attacks, especially those that target Alabamian women and their reproductive healthcare,” Raven said of the ‘buffer zone’ bill. “Once again, this proposed legislation will cost the state untold millions of dollars that it does not have to defend in court. Instead of aspiring to further restrict women’s reproductive rights, the Alabama legislature should be working to address our looming budgetary shortfall, which bills like this will not fix.”
For children, Alabama is currently one of the worst American states in which to be born. Without changes, the budget hole this year will force the state to cut child care funding for 17,000 children.
A pet project of one of the most belligerent and obsessive forced-birth activists in the state, former Alabama Christian Coalition leader James Henderson, the ‘buffer zone’ bill has begun to attract negative national attention to the intrinsic hypocrisy of a movement which has litigated all the way to the Supreme Court to strike down ‘buffer zones’ inserted between protesters and clinics.
In an interview with WAAY-TV last week, Henderson doubled-down on his ‘sex offender’ equivalency by falsely claiming that underage females who access the variety of reproductive services at the Huntsville clinic, which is the specific target of his bill, are mostly victims of statutory rape.
Alabama legislators are also trying to pass a ‘Conscience Clause’ protecting the right of health care providers and pharmacists to refuse services that contradict their personal beliefs. Replicating numerous federal laws such as the Church Amendment, HB491 is modeled on Georgia’s law, which recently became controversial when Brittany Cartret, a miscarrying mother, was refused medication to complete the natural process by a Walmart employee with more judgmental attitude than good judgment.
American state legislatures have introduced over two hundred new bills concerning abortion since January, a consequence of the Republican Party’s midterm success. Republican legislative majorities seem to be in competition with one another to enact the most restrictive and harsh laws; a ghoulish proposal recently considered in the Texas House would force women to carry dead babies to term.