Ala. Bills Would Set Some of Nation's Harshest Abortion Restrictions

February 27, 2014 — An Alabama House panel on Tuesday advanced a package of bills that would create some of the strictest abortion regulations in the nation, including a ban on abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, the Huffington Post reports (Bassett, Huffington Post, 2/26).

All four bills -- three of which passed unanimously through the House Committee on Health -- now head to the full Republican-controlled House.

Bill Details

One bill (HB 489) would lengthen the state's waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortion from 24 hours to 48 hours.

Another bill (HB 490) would require a physician to check for a fetal heartbeat before an abortion and make it a felony to perform an abortion if a heartbeat is detectable (Lockette, Anniston Star, 2/25). If enacted, the bill would effectively ban abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy, when some women might not yet be aware that they are pregnant.

A third bill (HB 493) would require physicians to tell women whose fetuses have fatal anomalies that perinatal hospice services are available. If a woman declines the services and chooses to end the pregnancy, she would have to sign a form acknowledging her decision and wait 48 hours after that to have an abortion.

A fourth measure (HB 494) would increase parental involvement requirements for minors seeking abortions. The bill would require parents to provide the minor's certified birth certificate. The bill also would prohibit "hearsay" in a minor's testimony if she seeks a 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 (Huffington Post, 2/26).