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2/13/2012 - February 2012 SLI Educational Update - Sanctity of Life Legislation in the 2012 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature



 To:                  SLI Supporters                                  

 Date:               February 2012  

 From:              A. Eric Johnston

Re:                  Sanctity of Life Legislation in the 2012 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature


 On February 7, 2012, the regular session of the Alabama Legislature will begin.  It will last until late May.  During that time it will consider many pieces of legislation, introduced for myriad reasons and on behalf of many constituencies.  We believe there is no more important legislation to be considered than for the protection of unborn life.  SLI is privileged again this year to provide legal assistance, including drafting of bills, testimony before committees, and advising Representatives and Senators.

 In 2011, the Alabama Legislature passed only one bill to protect life.  It was known as the Alabama Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  It is an important law which may lower the threshold for when abortions may be prohibited.  However, the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, Inc., Alabama Citizens for Life, and Personhood Alabama were disappointed that no other sanctity of life legislation passed.  It was the first year of a new Republican-run legislature which, admittedly, had many responsibilities and were new at the job. 

This coming year, we are hopeful that Republican leadership will see that a number of bills protecting life will be passed.  Legislative leadership and various sponsors of the proposed bills have provided assurance that the bills will be given the priority and recognition they deserve.  At this time, we believe the following bills will be filed:

Healthcare Conscience Bill –This bill provides that for abortion, sterilization, cloning and embryonic stem cell research, healthcare professionals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etcetera, may not be required to perform or participate if it would violate their consciences.  Alabama is only one of three states that do not have this protection. 

 Abortion Clinic Regulations – This is an extensive bill.  It is the first time it has been filed.  The purpose is to bring abortion clinics up to the standard that is expected of doctor’s offices, surgical centers, etcetera.  For too long, abortion clinics have provided substandard care to women.  These regulations would change the standard, so that while abortion remains legal, at least, the healthcare provided to women will be what we expect from our healthcare providers.

 The Right to Know and See – Advances in ultrasound let a woman see the child she is carrying.  While you cannot force persons to accept healthcare, you can make the best care available to them.  This bill provides that women have a right to know and see the personhood of their unborn child.  It requires an ultrasound to be performed and described to the woman, giving her the opportunity to view it.  It strengthens that portion of the Alabama law that may be found in the Women’s Right to Know Act on the requirements of providing ultrasounds. 

Opt-Out of Obamacare and Limit Insurance Coverage of Abortion in Alabama – Under Obamacare, states may opt-out of providing abortions.  This was the strong language put into that law when Congress passed it.  The deadline is approaching on when states must opt-out and it should be done now.  The bill also permits an insurance provider in the State of Alabama to pay for abortion only if it is purchased through an optional rider and with an additional premium.  Existing law permits group coverage to pay for elective abortions. 

Personhood Amendment – The Roe v. Wade court decision legalizing abortion is based on the idea that the unborn child is not a person within the meaning of law.  This bill proposes an amendment to the Alabama Constitution defining life beginning at a very early stage.  The exact wording of the bill is not certain and will potentially be developed during the session.  Under consideration is that life begins “at conception” or “after implantation.”  The debate over when life begins, even at these early stages, is intense.  The major reason is that it implicates birth control and in vitro fertilization.

Under present federal constitutional law, abortion remains a woman’s right in America.  A Personhood Amendment could play a role in changing that.  In the meantime, we believe the other four bills are significant advances to reducing the number of abortions in Alabama, in addition to raising the standard of healthcare for women who are caught in the tragic circumstances of considering an abortion as an alternative. 

While SLI cannot lobby for bills, we can provide the expert legal support and assistance in the legislative process.  We support the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, Inc., Alabama Citizens for Life, and Personhood Alabama in their efforts to have these bills passed.  We urge you to participate, to the extent or in the manner you are able, in the process.  It is your constitutional right and there is no issue more important than protecting the lives of our unborn children.


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