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story.lead_photo.caption This photograph released by the state shows Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signing a bill that virtually outlaws abortion in the state on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala. Republicans who support the measure hope challenges to the law will be used by conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion nationwide. (Hal Yeager/Alabama Governor's Office via AP)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama's Republican governor signed the most stringent abortion legislation in the nation Wednesday, making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases.

"To the bill's many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians' deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God," Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

The bill's sponsors want to give conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to gut abortion rights nationwide, but Democrats and abortion rights advocates criticized the bill as a slap in the face to women voters.

"It just completely disregards women and the value of women and their voice. We have once again silenced women on a very personal issue," said Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, a Birmingham Democrat.

Coleman-Madison said she hopes the measure awakens a "sleeping giant" of women voters in the state.

But Republican pollster Chris Kratzer noted that there is no congressional district and likely no legislative district with enough swing voters to put Republicans at serious risk in the state.

"The people who are outraged about this are not the people who are electing these guys, generally speaking, especially when we're talking about the primary," he said.

The legislation Alabama senators passed Tuesday would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison for the provider. The only exception would be when the woman's health is at serious risk. Women seeking or undergoing abortions wouldn't be punished.

Ivey acknowledged Wednesday that the measure may be unenforceable in the short term.

"The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur," Ivey said.

Rep. Terri Collins, the bill's sponsor, said she believes the bill reflects the beliefs of the majority of the state electorate.

"I've heard from lots of women in the state who are extremely pro-life and they're very supportive," Collins said.

Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia recently have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. The Alabama bill goes further by seeking to ban abortion outright.

Abortion rights advocates vowed swift legal action.

"We are laser-focused on urging Gov. Kay Ivey to veto this dangerous bill. If she chooses not to, then we will take this to court and ensure that abortion remains safe and legal and accessible in the state of Alabama," said Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast.

Supporters of the bill acknowledged the ban would not be effective anytime soon, because they expected it to be blocked by the courts as they fight upward toward the court.

One mile from the Alabama Statehouse — down the street from the Governor's Mansion — sits Montgomery's only abortion clinic. Because of its location, the clinic sees a stream of patients from Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle because other clinics have closed.

Clinic staff on Wednesday fielded calls from patients, and potential patients, wrongly worried that abortion was now illegal in the state. They were assured abortion remained legal in the state.

"It's been a lot of fear. A lot of people who are afraid they can't get their procedure," said Kari Crowe, a clinic employee and escort.

"Abortion is OK!" read a banner paid for by abortion rights advocates that a plane carried as it circled the Alabama Capitol and Statehouse on Wednesday.

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Comments

  • WGT
    May 15, 2019 at 6:17 p.m.

    Vile. Evil. Sanctimonious. The people writing, endorsing, and enacting this legislation vainly effect they are more reasoned than medical physicians who have time worn experiences helping women with decisions that are only, ONLY, up to the woman and her physician.

  • limb
    May 15, 2019 at 8:29 p.m.

    Good comment

  • Packman
    May 15, 2019 at 8:31 p.m.

    Nice. Very nice. Showing reverence for life.
    .
    Hey wgt - Why shouldn’t the man/father have a say in the decision as the unborn child is equal parts mom and dad?
    .
    “Evil”? Showing reverence for life is “evil”? That’s a bold strategy, Cotton.

  • Popsmith
    May 15, 2019 at 8:43 p.m.

    Abortion is still murder.

  • GeneralMac
    May 15, 2019 at 10:44 p.m.

    They don't call the man who slaughters cattle in the packing plant "DR"

    He is not required to go to school for years and years just to learn the proper way to kill cattle,dismember them so his boss can sell the body parts later.

  • GeneralMac
    May 15, 2019 at 11:05 p.m.

    Democrats would love working in a beef packing plant but only if a sharp object is thrust into the base of the skull to kill the cattle.

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    May 16, 2019 at 12:18 a.m.

    because killing people is just an everyday ethical choice.

  • Illinoisroy
    May 16, 2019 at 7:59 a.m.

    Abortion is not murder. USA need freedom FROM religion (and GMAC)

  • FireEyes
    May 16, 2019 at 10:38 a.m.

    Abortion has always been, and will always be, about MURDER. An adult choses to MURDER a child for whatever reason they can come up with at the moment. Spare me the 'life of the woman' garbage, because that is flat out false. And yeah I know what I'm saying because I worked in labor and delivery many years ago. We NEVER did one for that reason in all the YEARS I was there, NEVER. Spare me the doctor knows best argument as well since the creeps who do this know full well they are MURDERING living humans and don't give a rip. For them it's all about the money, period.

    WGT - What's evil is your hate of truth and MASSIVE lack of knowledge. For the so-called medical people involved, it's about the MONEY, period. As to the woman, her CHOICE ended when she chose to spread those legs, period. Spare me the pregnancy after rape fallacies, too, because that is very rare.

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