This morning, a friend sent me a link reporting that Alabama is preparing for the newest round in the War on Women – reproductive rights to be precise. An ACLU blog is reporting that Alabama Senate lawmakers are preparing to hold debate on a bill that would allow hospitals and medical professionals to refuse to assist in any procedure related to ending a pregnancy – even for a miscarriage.
This week, the Alabama Senate is set to consider a cruel bill that would permit the hospital staff, including any doctor, nurse, counselor, or lab technician, to refuse to participate in any phase of patient medical care related to ending a pregnancy, even if that is what a patient like this woman needs to protect her own health and future fertility.
Yes, you heard that right. Under this law, if you or a loved one is pregnant and go to an emergency room in Alabama because of serious complications, every medical professional in that emergency room could refuse to help you if the care you needed to protect you from serious harm to your health required ending the pregnancy. (Source
Unfortunately, the ACLU blog didn’t link to the actual bill, or even give the name of the bill. So I had to fire up my trusty Google search skills, pour another cup of coffee and go looking.
After scanning the entire roster of Senate legislation, I went to the House (where the bill originated) and found HB 31, the “Health Care Rights of Conscience Act” which is the bill the original blog addressed. This legislation allows for a person to not only refuse to provide medical services involved with ending a pregnancy, but also for sterilization including vasectomy. It does require the objecting party to provide at least 24 hours notice of their objection to involvement and a healthcare provider is not exempt from liability if it is an emergency situation in which the life of the woman is threatened, so the hypothetical scenario presented in the blog is not that realistic.
Is this a bad bill? Yes it is, but it isn’t a “the sky is falling” piece of legislation either. Alabama already has extreme anti-choice legislation on the books so this isn’t a major change to the status quo other than to throw another bone to the religious right ahead of the 2014 election. The “Health Care Rights of Conscience Act” passed the House on a 76-21 vote with 2 abstaining on January 21st, and most likely will be signed into law by Governor Robert J. Bentley after it passes the Senate.
I just find it highly hypocritical that the same Alabama Senate is currently also considering SB 220 which contains language that prohibits the state from setting up any sort of healthcare exchange, a system that would benefit women and children who need healthcare access. Once again, a Republican-dominated state legislature has shown us that they like to talk a big game about being “pro-life” but once you’re actually born, they couldn’t care less about you.
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