Getting an abortion two weeks after conception could in theory be a capital offense, and punishable by the death penalty, if Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins has her way. Collins, a Republican, has introduced a bill that would essentially ban abortion in the state with the explicit hope the ensuing legal battle will result in Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Collins' bill would ban abortion "in Alabama within two weeks of conception, which is the earliest point that pregnancy can be medically determined and the same standard used by a state law allowing someone to be charged with murder if a pregnant woman’s child is killed or harmed during the commission of a crime." Alabama is one of 38 states that has fetal homicide laws.
The bill allows exceptions for cases where the woman's life is in danger, but it does not allow exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Currently, abortion care is banned in Alabama after 21.6 weeks and there is a 48-hour waiting period.
“Just last year, roughly 60 percent of voters across the state ratified a constitutional amendment declaring Alabama as a pro-life state, and this legislation is the next logical step in the fight to protect unborn life,” Collins wrote in a press release. Sixty-three members of Alabama's House have co-sponsored the bill. Although Collins' legislation claims that it's "especially important to reconsider personhood because medical technology and the accumulated knowledge associated with unborn life has significantly improved and expanded" since 1973 (when Roe was decided), most medical professionals agree that a fetus cannot survive outside the womb before roughly 22 weeks.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court leans conservative, anti-choice politicians and activists see this moment as an opening to finally get a woman's right to an abortion overturned at the federal level. Since January, 250 abortion restrictions have been introduced, all with the intent on limiting access to abortion care. "Conservative legislators have their eyes on overturning abortion rights in a way we haven’t seen in decades. The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court is now conservative has kick started this wave of bans," Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at Guttmacher Institute, told Refinery29. "States like Alabama are primed to pursue abortion bans since they have already adopted a slew of abortion restrictions designed to make it hard for patients to access services and for providers to keep their doors open ... the only restrictions left to enact are bans."
As Refinery29 previously reported, a slew of states, such as Kentucky, Mississippi, and Georgia, have introduced a series of draconian laws since January, aimed at criminalizing abortion; Georgia's heartbeat bill — which would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically occurs at around six weeks — is awaiting Gov. Brian Kemp's signature. "The geography of where you live in this country dictate your access to care,” Dr. Sanithia Williams, from the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California-San Francisco, previously told Refinery29. "“Knowing all the other barriers to accessing a pregnancy test [at a family planning clinic] and then accessing abortion care, these bills] are essentially making it so no one has a right to abortion.”