Alabama House Passes Extreme ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Ban, Three Other Anti-Choice Bills


After six hours of, at times, heated and racially charged debate Tuesday, the Alabama house passed four bills restricting abortion, the most severe of which would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected and with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The heartbeat bill’s sponsor, Mary McClurkin (R-Indian Springs), came under heavy fire from her Black colleagues after she compared her bill to the Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended legal racial segregation in the United States. The point of McClurkin’s remarks appeared to be that abortion constitutes “discrimination” against a fetus, and that bills like hers could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as Brown overturned Plessy v. Ferguson. 

“I am absolutely insulted as a Black woman, as a member of the House of Representatives, that you as a white female would stand here in my face and say that this bill has something to do with the Brown v. Board of Education case from 1954,” said Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Jefferson) on the house floor. “That has nothing to do with a woman’s right to choose.”

Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) accused his anti-choice colleagues of hypocrisy and racism. “Ninety-nine percent of the all of the white people in here are going to raise their hand that they are against abortion,” he said. “On the other hand, 99 percent of the whites who are sitting in here now, if their daughter got pregnant by a Black man, they are going to make their daughter have an abortion.”

McClurkin also rejected an amendment that would have created exceptions for rape or incest.

“Your people raped my people from back in the day,” said Givan, referring to an earlier discussion about rape. “You don’t have anyone that was spit on, anyone that was beaten … anyone that could not go into a public facility because of their race.”

When pressed by a colleague as to whether she thought her bill would actually end abortions, McClurkin said, “I don’t think it will stop it. Maybe it would make the pregnant mother think about what she’s doing.”

The house, which has a supermajority of Republican representatives, passed all four bills with overwhelming margins. The other three bills would increase the waiting period to obtain an abortion from 24 to 48 hours; dramatically increase the burden on minors seeking abortion whether with or without parental permission; and force women with doomed pregnancies to hear about the option to use “fetal hospice” services that do not currently exist in the state of Alabama.

“Although the fetal heartbeat bill is the most controversial, it should be noted that all of the bills present grave consequences to women,” Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama, said in a statement.

Only North Dakota has approved a law as stringent as Alabama’s heartbeat bill, which would ban abortions as early as five or six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. But North Dakota’s six-week ban has been blocked by courts while lawsuits against it proceed. Bans on abortion before viability (roughly 24 weeks) are considered a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion, and some anti-choice advocates see passing such bans as a strategy to ultimately overturn Roe.

All four bills now move to the state senate. Watson of the ACLU told RH Reality Check that while the senate also has a Republican supermajority, she doesn’t think the bills will pass quite as easily there.

“I think it’s possible that they all pass the senate, but we sure are going to work hard to make sure they don’t,” Watson said.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

  • fiona64

    I am so sick about the “maybe it will make the pregnant woman think about what she’s doing” rhetoric. It is beyond patronizing, to presume that pregnant women are too stupid to make a choice to terminate a pregnancy. If these women are all so stupid, why do the anti-choice want them rearing children?

    Fetal heart tones are *not* indicative of personhood.

    • five_by_five

      You’re right. We should have IQ tests for people and if they don’t pass they should be forcibly sterilized.

      Great idea fiona64. I like it.

      • fiona64

        Your stupid arse is still here? Gah.

        And you’ve been flagged … not only for creating an asinine strawman, but for implying that I even remotely suggested forced sterilization. That belongs in the anti-choice camp, nitwit … it’s no different from forced pregnancy, so I’m not at all surprised that you “like” the idea that no one suggested except for you.

        • cjvg

          Notice how they are never in favour of mandatory vasectomies after puberty?! They never even bring it up, so strange that!

          Funny thing is that that system would have a 100% guarantee that no unwanted pregnancies would EVER occur.

          • Ineedacoffee

            Wonder how they feel about backyard vasectomies?
            Only fair since they wish to push women to backyard abortions

    • Shan

      As if she hasn’t been thinking about what to do pretty much 24/7 since the day her period was late.

    • Miip

      I agree, the programmed religious bim bot has put all the blame once again on the female for pregnancy! It is repugnant to say the least.

      So I guess the Repug dim wit believes that it is not important that a female should have a choice over her own body & is body of the state & on the other side of her retched mouth wants less government as spouted by the Republican party.

      She is a fool’s woe! Females are date raped (drugged all the time from males) You can not always prove rape & mean while he can get away from any responsibility.

      The bottom line is it is her body & can die carrying a pregnancy and it is not the government’s right to her body!!!!!!!!!!!

    • cjvg

      We all know women don’t think. They just wander aimlessly until one day they find themselves in front of an abortion clinic and decide to go in.
      Then , if they are lucky, it turns out they are actually pregnant and can get themselves that abortion they always coveted but have not had yet!
      Of course they probably have to leave and wander around non thinking and aimlessly for another 24, 72 or however many hours are mandated before they can finally get that abortion for that pregnancy they were not previously aware off!

      • fiona64

        Did I ever share the article here about the CPCs that were telling non-pregnant women that they were indeed pregnant and trying to shame them into placing the (non-existent) future infant for adoption? It’s pretty disturbing. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/caitlin-bancroft/crisis-pregnancy-center_b_3763196.html

        • cjvg

          That is just beyond disturbing,

          Strange how there is all these important reproductive regulation laws all for the safety and health of said women of course! Yet somehow CPC are blissfully free of any of these regulations to ensure women’s safety?!

          Hmm, it is almost enough to make you think that women’s health and safety is not the real issue!

        • Jennifer Starr

          That is just insanity. These people have no shame at all.

        • expect_resistance

          That is seriously messed up. Thanks for linking to the story.

      • Mirable

        Now now, just admit it we all know women just don’t think

        Especially minorities! Which is why every PP in a minority neighbourhood must be shut down, because minority women will GENOCIDE their own race by taking bc pills????

        • cjvg

          OMG, what are you drinking, whatever gave you the idea that minority women even have the capacity to think?!

          I don’t understand these people they scream their heads off about welfare queens and at the same time they scream about minorities having so many abortions that it is becoming a genocide.

          So what is it, these things are pretty mutually exclusive!

          • Mirable

            Exactly. I followed someone to Allen B West’s blog (batshit republican from FL) and the topic under discussion was the black genocide.

            I started to troll by making ridiculous comments about how black women are all s1uts who have teh sex just to commit genocide and collect welfare checks – and many other highly offensive and OBVIOUS trollish comments.

            The crazy thing? No one called me on it. In fact, fuckers were AGREEING with me. I told my bf about it, and he told me to stay the fuck away from the place, because any site that is going to agree with someone who says ridiculously racist/paranoid things is not really a place you want to be associated with in any way whatsoever – even if it just as a troll.

          • cjvg

            Some of these things just make me feel sick.
            Not a single person questioned this, or thought you where trolling?

          • Mirable

            Only one did, and ze was pro-choice.

            And I HATE HATE HATE talking about minority reproductive rights, because black women are all too often used as props, especially by the pro-life movement, to further an agenda.

            I feel for Dez, who has to sit by as people argue back and forth about what rights black women should be afforded.

          • cjvg

            Yes, sometimes it is just beyond cringe worthy what is said. I think she is great though, she can really slap them down (and it is so much more functional and hard hitting coming from her too!)

            “Only one did, and ze was pro-choice” imagine that, a pro-choice woman who respects other womans choices!

  • anja

    These conceited and selfish idiots just keep passing these heinous laws against the peoples wishes and then people have to pay taxes to fight for the laws they don’t want and usually they loose because the laws are ridiculous or unconstitutional. Instead the people and the government should sue the lawmakers who propose these bills as a wast of time and resources vital to the growth, prosperity, and well being of all citizens.

  • Elaine Leas

    Most people who vote against a woman’s right to choose are folks you wouldn’t want to sleep with anyway……

    • Ineedacoffee

      Yet sadly they still find people to reproduce with

  • P. McCoy

    I wish that someone had paid more attention to. Savitas heartbeat than the one of a rotting fetus. How many women have to die in order to satisfy the blood lust of the forced birthers. With their support for laws that reduce healthcare, housing, clothing and other material needs that borne children need, I can’t believe that they are pro life.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    I am kind of sick. Anybody see Rachel Maddow’s segment on abortion in Texas? Women are dying in horrible ways again. Again. I am beside myself.

    • expect_resistance

      Things are moving from bad to worse. We just have to keep fighting.

    • HeilMary1

      Women should try leaving Texas for a day or longer and see if they’re missed.

  • red_zone

    McClurkin assumes that the woman who has made the decision to get an abortion HASN’T ‘thought about it’ at great length and is acting entirely on a whim. It is arrogance to assume that.

    If a woman, of her own volition, makes the decision to get an abortion, then NO ONE has any place dictating that decision or to force her into a position where she should be made to suffer just because others are squeamish.