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Alabama’s Abortion Bill Is the Strictest in the Nation. Here’s What That Means

May 15, 2019, 4:44 PM UTC

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Alabama state legislature passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the country, nearly banning the procedure.

Alabama’s Republican governor Kay Ivey is expected to sign it into law, which could set up the law for a legal challenge before the Supreme Court under the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

The legislation seeks to ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with the only exception in cases when the pregnancy threatens the life of the pregnant person. Doctors who perform the procedure could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. The bill would also ban abortions in cases of rape or incest.

Republican Senator Clyde Chambliss, a sponsor of the bill, defended omitting exceptions in cases of rape or incest on the basis of religion.

“When God creates the miracle of life inside a woman’s womb, it is not our place as human beings to extinguish that life,” he said.

The bill passed with the support of 25 white, male Republican senators, while a number of Democratic amendments to the legislation failed.

Democratic minority leader Bobby Singleton opposed the ban, and called attention to the men stripping people of their rights to access reproductive healthcare.

“You’ve got 27 men over on the other side ready to tell women what they can do with their bodies,” Singleton said.

If signed into law, the bill will not only affect women, but also transgender men, non-binary, and intersex people. The legislation would also disproportionately affect the lives of low-income residents, black residents, and residents of color in the state.

Two Republicans did not vote on the measure.

During a four-hour debate over the legislation Tuesday night, Democratic Senator Vivian Davis Figures argued that the men voting to strip people of their reproductive rights have no stake in the matter.

“You don’t have to raise that child. You don’t have to carry that child. You don’t have to provide for that child,” Davis Figures said.

Twenty-one abortion restrictions had already been enacted in 2019 as of April, as anti-abortion activists and lawmakers continue to push restrictive legislation in hopes of getting a case before the Supreme Court that would pose a legal challenge to Roe.

“What we’re seeing now is much more a full frontal attack on abortion rights,” Elizabeth Nash, a senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, told Fortune last month.

The ACLU of Alabama, along with the National ACLU and Planned Parenthood, are preparing a legal challenge of their own.

“[We] will file a lawsuit to stop this unconstitutional ban and protect every woman’s right to make her own choice about her healthcare, her body, and her future,” Alabama’s ACLU chapter said Tuesday.

The organization reminded people living in the state that “the bill will not take effect anytime in the near future, and abortion will remain a safe, legal medical procedure at all clinics in Alabama.”

Abortion rights advocates say that anti-abortion legislation has already created a level of fear and a spread of misinformation.

“There’s a real concern as we are talking about states that are seeking to ban abortion that real people across the country will make the assumption that abortion is banned,” said Nash. “That’s not the end of the story.”

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—How civil rights and liberties activists are taking on Capitol Hill

—What exactly is ranked-choice voting?

21 abortion restrictions have already been enacted in 2019

—Should Title VII civil rights protections include the LGBTQ community?

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