In Alabama, Doctors Who Perform Abortion Face More Prison Time Than Rapists
Last night, the Alabama state Senate passed an abortion bill that is arguably the most restrictive in the entire country, possibly sentencing doctors that perform the procedure to life in prison if the legislation is enacted, Newsweek reports.
The Republican-led Alabama Senate passed HB 314 in a 25-6 vote. It restricts abortion entirely unless a patient strictly meets one of the following conditiosn: her health is in “serious” danger, if the “unborn child has a lethal anomally,” or if the pregnancy is ectopic, meaning that the fertilized egg attaches itself outside of the womb.
Notably, the bill makes no exceptions for victims who become pregnant as a result of incest or rape. And while women will not be held criminally accountable for seeking abortions, doctors who are found attempting the procedure outside of the strict conditions are liable for up to 10 years behind bars, and those found guilty of completing abortions would face up to 99 years in prison.
Democratic state Senator Bobby Singleton noted that doctors who perform abortions for victims of rape would likely be in prison for longer than the rapist who caused the pregnancy in the first place.
Singleton discussed the experiences of one survivor of sexual assault who was present in the Senate gallery and identified as Sam. “A doctor would get more time in prison than the very man who raped Sam” and caused her pregnancy, Singleton said, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also slammed the bill in a tweet on Wednesday morning, saying that, “of course,” the proposal has “no added punishments for rapists.”
Alabama law stipulates that first-degree rape is a Class A felony punishable by "no less than 10 years and no more than life or 99 years," nearly identical to the punishment proposed for doctors performing abortions.
But second-degree rape is classified as a Class B felony with a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison—potentially 80 years less than the sentence of a doctor convicted of performing an abortion.
Newsweek notes that “Whereas first-degree rape includes sexual intercourse with a minor younger than 12 years old and of the opposite sex of the defendant, when the defendant is at least 16 years old, second-degree rape applies to sexual intercourse with a minor between the ages of 12 and 15 when the defendant is at least 16 years old and at least two years older than the victim.”
Democratic state Senator Rodger Smitherman slammed the bill, saying that passing the measure signals to “a 12-year-old girl, who, through incest and rape is pregnant, we are telling her that she doesn't have a choice."