April 4, 2014 — The Alabama Senate this week approved two antiabortion-rights bills (HB 489, HB 494), but the chamber did not vote on two other House-approved abortion-related measures before the legislative session ended on Thursday, Reuters reports.
Both of the approved bills now go to Gov. Roger Bentley (R), who expects to sign them after a legal review, a spokesperson said (Gates, Reuters, 4/3).
Mandatory Delay Bill
On Wednesday, the state Senate voted 24-10 to approve HB 489, which would extend the state-mandated delay from when a woman receives an initial consultation about an abortion to undergoing the procedure from 24 hours to 48 hours (Sell, Florence Times Daily, 4/2).
Parental Involvement Bill
On Thursday, the chamber approved HB 494, which would increase the state's parental involvement requirements for minors seeking abortions (Reuters, 4/3).
The bill would require parents to provide a minor's certified birth certificate and prohibit "hearsay" in a minor's testimony if she seeks judicial bypass from the parental consent requirement, meaning that a minor could not tell the judge that her parents threatened abuse. In addition, parents accused of abuse would be permitted to attend the hearing (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/5).
Earlier in the week, state Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) said that the chamber would not take up two other antiabortion-rights measures passed by the state House (AP/Washington Times, 4/2).
One bill (HB 493) would have required physicians to tell a woman whose fetus has a disorder that is incompatible with survival outside the womb that perinatal hospice services are available. If a woman declined the services and chose to end her pregnancy, she would have had to sign a form acknowledging her decision and endure a 48-hour delay period before an abortion.
The other measure (HB 490) would have required a physician to check for a fetal heartbeat before an abortion and made it a felony to perform an abortion if a heartbeat is detectable (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/5).
Marsh said he would not consider the fetal heartbeat bill because similar measures have prompted lawsuits in North Dakota and Arkansas, adding, "I would like to see what happens in those states before we spend valuable state dollars" (AP/Washington Times, 4/2).
Judge Sets Trial Date for Admitting Privileges Law
In related news, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson on Wednesday set a May 19 trial date for a case over the constitutionality of an Alabama law (HB 57) that requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, Reuters reports (Gates, Reuters, 4/2).
Earlier this week, Thompson rejected summary judgment requests from the state and the plaintiffs. Instead, he said that a trial should be held to determine whether the law violates women's constitutional rights by imposing a "substantial obstacle" to their access to abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/1).
On Wednesday, Thompson also extended a temporary restraining order against the law to keep it from taking effect until after he issues a final judgment (Reuters, 4/2).