What happens next with Alabama's near-total abortion ban

9:09 a.m. ET, May 15, 2019

There are 3 exceptions to Alabama's near-total abortion ban. Rape isn't one of them.

Alabama senators last night passed HB 314, which would slap doctors with up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. The Alabama House passed the bill earlier this month.

The law only allows these exceptions:

  • "To avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother"
  • For ectopic pregnancy
  • If the "unborn child has a lethal anomaly."

Democrats had re-introduced an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims, but the motion failed on an 11-21 vote.

9:02 a.m. ET, May 15, 2019

Alabama's abortion bill comes after several states passed fetal heartbeat bills

In passing the US's most restrictive abortion bill, Alabama lawmakers join legislators in several other states in putting forth legislation to restrict abortion, such as Georgia's recent fetal heartbeat bill.

About the Georgia bill: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp last week signed a bill that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — when many women don't yet know they're pregnant.

"(The bill) is very simple but also very powerful: a declaration that all life has value, that all life matters, and that all life is worthy of protection," Kemp, flanked by supporters of the bill, said before signing the legislation.

It's not just Georgia: Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill into law in March that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed similar legislation in April.

But many times such bills are held up in committees, rejected in legislative votes, vetoed by governors and struck down in courts. No state has been able to put a so-called heartbeat bill into lasting practice.

In January, an Iowa judge struck down that state's fetal heartbeat bill, declaring it unconstitutional. The US Supreme Court has previously declined to weigh in after lower courts blocked bills in North Dakota and Arkansas.

8:44 a.m. ET, May 15, 2019

Alabama's Senate passed a near-total abortion ban last night. Now, it heads to the governor's desk.

Alabama sent the most restrictive abortion bill in the country to the governor's desk Tuesday night, with the state's Senate passing legislation that could punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison.

The state's Republican backers have pushed the legislation, which amounts to a near-total ban on abortion in the state, forward with the express goal of overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case legalizing abortion.

The Bill would slap doctors with up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion. The Alabama House passed the bill earlier this month.

What happens now? Republican Gov. Kay Ivey will have six days to sign the legislation, though the bill would not take effect until six months after becoming law.

Ivey has not publicly taken a stance on the bill but has previously aligned herself as anti-abortion, lamenting the courts striking down another Alabama abortion law last year.