Alabama House Committee Passes Bill to Define Unborn Baby as a Person and Ban Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 13, 2016   |   3:59PM   |   Montgomery, Alabama

Alabama legislators moved forward with a bill this week that would define a person as “any human being from the moment of fertilization” in the state constitution.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, the constitutional amendment passed the state House Health Committee this week. If approved by the legislature, the measure would go on the ballot for voters’ approval.

Alabama state Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, sponsored the amendment. He said the bill probably would not end abortions in the state right away, but it could set a precedent for the future.

“I just believe it’s not a direct attack on abortion,” Henry said after the vote. “But if Alabamians believe life begins at conception, then it does cause abortion to be in conflict with our values.”

The report has more details:

The language is identical to a measure put on the ballot in Mississippi in 2011, defeated amid concerns of its potential effects on birth control and medical treatment of pregnant women. Voters in North Dakota and Colorado defeated similar amendments in 2014. Henry said it could lead to restrictions on some birth control methods and in-vitro fertilizations. He also expected litigation if voters approved it.

“I believe in life, and protecting it, no matter if we’re going to be sued,” he said.

During a committee hearing in March, Dr. Jim Belyeu, a pro-life OB-GYN, testified in support of the bill, saying the unborn child is a “totally separate” entity from the mother.

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“The baby initiates the process of implantation,” Belyeu said. “Scientifically, pregnancy has been long recognized at beginning at fertilization, so anything that would prevent implantation would be considered abortion.”

However, ACLU lawyer Brock Boone spoke out against the bill, calling it an “attack on women” and saying it would ban certain types of birth control as well as abortion, according to the news report.

When Boone said the bill made him “ashamed to be from Alabama,” Henry replied that the state has “open boarders” and he is “free to leave,” according to Fox News.

Several other states, including Missouri and Oklahoma are considering similar measures to define personhood in their state constitutions in an effort to protect unborn babies from abortions.

While the intentions are good, the reality is that these measures are unlikely to become law. Because of the current political climate and the precedents set in the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, courts would almost certainly strike down the measures. The challenges also can result in states being forced to pay abortion activists’ attorneys huge settlement fees.

The Supreme Court has ruled on personhood amendments previously and indicated they amount to a statement of position on behalf of the state and are not able to ban abortions in and of themselves. In 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court also struck down a similar personhood bill as unconstitutional.

Many pro-life groups believe a key strategy to ending legalized abortion is overturning Roe v. Wade. However, the current Supreme Court justices are highly unlikely to do so, especially after the unexpected death of pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia. Three of the justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, likely would vote to overturn Roe and return abortion laws back to the authority of the states; but five of the other justices almost certainly would not. Scalia’s seat on the high court remains empty. Pro-abortion President Barack Obama recently nominated Merrick Garland to the high court, but pro-lifers believe he is pro-abortion and oppose his nomination.

To overturn Roe and make abortion illegal again, Americans need to elect a pro-life president and U.S. Senators who will put pro-life judges on the high court. This would pave the way for the reversal of Roe and a return to a country that protects every human life.