Alabama Bills Aim To Grant Personhood to Embroyos
by Charles Lemos, Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 02:45:29 PM EDT
Republican lawmakers in Alabama have introduced three bills that would change the definition of personhood and potentially make abortion in all circumstances illegal in the Yellowhammer state. The story from the American Independent:
Senate Bill 301, introduced by Sen. Phil Williams (R-Cherokee, Etowah), is a proposal to amend the Alabama Code of 1975 to change the definition of the term “person” to mean: “any human being from the moment of fertilization or the functional equivalent thereof.”
Williams’ bill — read for the first time last Tuesday — has 18 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate committee on Health.
Rep. John Merrill (R-Tuscaloosa) filed an identical personhood bill in the House on Thursday, House Bill 405. But taking a step further from just amending the state’s legal code, Merrill also filed House Bill 409, which is a ballot proposal to amend the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, so that every time the word “person” is used in that document it would include “‘all humans from the moment of fertilization.”
Personhood laws are the latest tactic by the far right to overturn the right to an abortion. Personhood laws aim to grant constitutional rights to zygotes and fetuses, and ban abortion without exception, certain forms of birth control, in vitro fertilization, and the treatment of pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancies. The Colorado-based Personhood USA, a radical anti-choice organization, along with the Foundation for Moral Law, led by former Alabama state Supreme Court Roy Moore, are the main forces behind the Alabama’s personhood legislation. Personhood USA is led by far-right Christian Evangelical ministers Keith Mason and Cal Zastrow. They claim to be a ministry for the "pre-born."
As if the above isn't enough, Alabama Alliance Against Abortion Director James Henderson is encouraging the Republican-controlled legislature to dust off a pre-Civil War statute that would make aiding and abetting abortion a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. That is, if you drive someone to get an abortion in Alabama, you could go to jail.
Women in Alabama already face a hostile environment when it comes to their reproductive freedom. Alabama law subjects women seeking abortion services to biased-counseling requirements and mandatory 24 hour waiting period. The state restricts low-income women's access to abortion and restricts young women's access to abortion services by mandating parental consent. At present, there are only six abortion clinics in Alabama and over 90 percent of the state's counties lack any reproductive health facilities. NARAL already rates Alabama an F when it comes to reproductive health freedom issues. What's left, an F Minus?
Mississippi is set to vote on a similar personhood amendment this coming November.