The Alabama GOP abruptly shut down the Senate on Thursday amid a shouting match over a sneaky attempt to make an extreme anti-choice bill even worse.
As if voting to put doctors in jail for 99 years for performing abortions wasn't enough, Alabama Republicans are trying to make their proposed new anti-choice law even worse. On Thursday, the Alabama Senate devolved into chaos as Republicans tried to sneak through the extreme change.
The Alabama House already passed a version of the bill that makes almost all abortions a crime, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Over in the Senate, members of the GOP had trouble deciding if they want to be quite that cruel.
First, the Senate committee amended the bill to add a rape and incest exception, making the bill only marginally less repressive. Then, the full Senate removed those exceptions, leaving just one exception remaining: a woman can get an abortion only if her health is at serious risk.
Here's where things went off the rails.
The decision to remove the rape and incest exception was made by a voice vote. A voice vote has no record of who voted yea or nay — the chair simply records whether it passed or failed.
As the state Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton pointed out, that maneuver gave Republicans cover, as they wouldn't have to have their names and "yes" vote attached to a provision that banned abortions even when a woman was raped.
Singleton had asked — and rightly so — that all votes related to the abortion bill be roll call votes so that the women of Alabama could know if their senators supported such draconian measures. But Republicans couldn't even do that.
Democrats objected to the sneaky move, the chamber erupted into a chaotic shouting match, and Republicans abruptly shut down the Senate until next Tuesday. GOP Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh moved to delay the vote on the bill until then.
As one of the few women in the Senate, Democrat Senator Vivian Davis Figures, noted, this bill is going to get passed — likely without the rape and incest exception. But Republicans can't even follow the proper procedure and allow the citizens of Alabama to know how their representatives voted.
In the end, whichever version of the bill passes, it is designed to function as a total abortion ban. It's also designed to trigger a lawsuit in the hopes that the case eventually reaches the Supreme Court, now stacked with conservative Trump nominees. The state's lieutenant governor even thanked Trump for "supercharging" the judiciary with extreme conservatives who are likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.
These inhumane abortion bills are popping up all over the country thanks to Republicans emboldened by Trump's judicial picks. Soon one definitely will make its way to the Supreme Court, and then it very well could be game over for reproductive rights in America.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.