Alabama poised to vote on nation’s most restrictive abortion bill

Alabama’s State Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on the nation’s most restrictive abortion bill, which was approved by the Alabama House last month. The bill would ban all abortion-related acts, except to protect the mother or unborn child. If Alabama’s bill passes, a doctor who performed one would face up to 99 years in prison.

In Montgomery, there is already just one abortion clinic – one of just three in the entire state. CBS News’ Jericka Duncan spoke to a doctor who has practiced for 15 years at one of those clinics and says this latest bill is unconstitutional.

Dr. Yashica Robinson is one of the only doctors still allowed to perform abortions in Alabama. She says lawmakers are letting their moral beliefs take precedence over what’s best for women as they decide whether to ban abortions across the entire state.

“Every woman should have access to the care that she needs, regardless of her zip code,” Robinson said. “It limits physicians in their ability to do whatever is best for their patients.”

Alabama Rep. Terri Collins, the bill’s sponsor, said the bill is intended to address Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to have an abortion.

“The issue that that decision was made on which is that the baby in the womb is a person,” Collins said.

Just last week Georgia became the sixth state to enact a “heartbeat bill,” banning abortion after a heartbeat is detectable in the embryo. None of those states’ laws are currently in effect because they are facing extensive legal challenges.

A vote on the Alabama bill was postponed last week after a shouting match erupted on the Senate chamber floor. It followed a Republican motion to dismiss an amendment that would make rape or incest an exception. Democrats are expected to reintroduce that amendment Tuesday.

But Robinson is concerned that abortion care already faces too many hurdles, including a 48-hour waiting period after a consultation before a woman can get the procedure.

“Women know what’s best for them. As physicians, we know what’s best for our patients. I think together we can make that decision,” Robinson said.

If this bill passes, it will head to the governor’s desk to sign, but Alabama voters have already had their say. Last November, 59 percent voted yes on an amendment that says the state will not support abortion.

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