When Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act on Wednesday, she issued the following statement:

Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. 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.

HB314 Signing-Governor Ivey

Governor Ivey signing Alabama’s new anti-abortion law

A doctor can be imprisoned for 99 years — effectively, for life — for performing an abortion.  There is no compassion allotted for victims of rape or incest; so if daddy put his naughty bits in his little girl’s naughty place, she would have to give birth to her father’s baby, making it both her sister/brother and her daughter/son, I guess.

Roe v. Wade established that abortion is legal until the point of viability (between 24 and 28 weeks into the pregnancy).  Fetal heartbeat bills, such as the ones just signed into law in Alabama and Georgia, are predicated on the suggestion that a heartbeat denotes “viability” or personhood.  But the problem with that bit of sentimentality is no one can state, categorically and definitively, the earliest point at which a fetus’ heartbeat can be detected; there is a huge variation based on the medical equipment used:  a “heartbeat” can be detected at 22 days using a highly invasive vaginal ultrasound, but not until roughly 63 days using a stethoscope.  As Mother Jones noted:

Whether a fetus shows a heartbeat can depend on the kind of ultrasound administered (vaginal or abdominal), the embryo’s position in the uterus, a woman’s body fat percentage, and a dozen other variables. One woman’s embryo might show a heartbeat at 6 weeks, and another might not show one until 12 weeks, so whether a certain woman could get an abortion would depend on many factors left up to chance.

Arkansas’ fetal heartbeat law requires doctors to listen with an abdominal ultrasound, while North Dakota’s states doctors must use “any technology available,” which would include a transvaginal probe capable of detecting a heartbeat weeks earlier than a abdominal ultrasound.  A woman’s abortion might be legal in Arkansas because no heartbeat was heard, while that same woman’s abortion would be illegal in North Dakota on the same day at the exact same moment in time because different medical procedures and equipment detected a “heartbeat” in the exact same fetus which didn’t have one in Arkansas.

baby doe, our little bundle of joy!

Rather than trying to hide his ignorance, Sen. Clyde Chambliss, one of the new Alabama law’s main supporters, demonstrated sophomoric confusion about how human reproduction works:  “I’m not trained medically, so I don’t know all the proper medical terminology and timelines and that sort of thing, but from what I’ve read [nb:  I have a hard time, based on this asinine comment, believing he’s read anything on the subject — um, jus’ sayin’], what I’ve been told, there’s some period of time before you can know that a woman is pregnant. … It takes some time for all those chromosomes and all that.”  To further demonstrate his extreme ignorance, in Tuesday night’s floor debate in the Alabama state Senate, Sen. Chambliss was confused about the difference between the moment when the chromosomes of the egg and sperm meet — called “fertilization” — and the moment when a pregnancy test — which tests hormones, not chromosomes — shows up positive; he could not answer questions about whether an abortion under this new law would be legal in the days or weeks between those two moments in time.  I’m not trained medically either, but it took me less than five minutes, thoughtful reader, to Google and read about the difference after reading a transcript of the floor debate.  This is an elected state senator we’re talking about here.

Oh it gets better!

Sen. Chambliss, could not define an “attempted abortion,” which would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison under the new law.  He said he didn’t know what an “attempted abortion” was, but that he thought it meant [wait for it…] that a fetus somehow remained viable after an abortion procedure.  Yah, really!

He could not provide an answer to the question about how doctors would be able to tell a miscarriage from a medically induced abortion, since the two would appear the same to a doctor, saying, “The burden of proof would be on the prosecution,” which means all women who go thru the tragedy and emotional trauma of a miscarriage in Alabama should, according to Sen. Chambliss, instead of compassion and care or at least sympathy for their loss, be investigated as criminal suspects by a prosecutor.

If you look at the genders of the members of the Alabama state legislature, a troubling picture emerges.  I love putting words in a certain order to construct sentences, but in this case, I believe a picture would communicate the problem far better than anything I might write:

Let’s end where we began, with Governor Ivey’s signing statement, specifically:

…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.

I have a question for the authors, sponsors, and supporters of this bill, for the governor of Alabama, and for everyone who calls themselves pro-life:


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