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Women in Alabama Could be Jailed Up to 99 Years for Abortions

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With a majority conservative Supreme Court, some states are pushing draconian legislation to try and get Roe v. Wade overturned.

One of the most extremely anti-abortion proposals in the country is coming before Alabama lawmakers in a public hearing on Wednesday before the ironically-named House Health Committee that is determined to outlaw almost all abortions in the state. The committee will decide whether to send the bill to the House floor. A vote could come as early as Wednesday because the House bill has more than 60 co-sponsors in the white, male Republican-dominated chamber of 105 members.

The bill makes performing an abortion a felony. The woman could be punished with jail terms between 10 and 99 years. There is a small exemption in the bill for “mother’s health” but pregnancies from rape or incest are not exempt.

This bill in Alabama is just one of several states considering or approving bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Heartbeats can be detected around the sixth week of pregnancy – when many women still may not know they’re pregnant. But the Alabama bill goes even further than most states in restricting women’s access to healthcare by banning most abortions from being performed at any time during a woman’s pregnancy.

The bill might fly directly in the face of Roe v. Wade – which is what the lawmakers want. If the bill ultimately passes, it will very likely be struck down by lower courts. But it could make it to the highest court in the country.

“The goal of this bill is to address Roe. v. Wade,” said Republican Rep. Terri Collins, the House bill’s sponsor.

Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, called it “one of the most extreme anti-abortion bills in the country, to effectively outlaw abortions in flagrant violation of federal law.”

On top of the common ethical arguments that women should have full control over their own bodies and family planning to be equal to men, research has pointed out that women who want an abortion but are denied one are more likely to spend years living in poverty than women who have abortions

In 2018, a study by the American Journal of Public Health found that carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term quadrupled the odds that a new mother and her child would live below the federal poverty line.

For women denied abortions, research found that public-assistance programs did not make up for the cost of a new baby and they were nearly four times as likely to live below the federal poverty line four years later as compared to women who had abortions.

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