Alabama now officially has the strictest abortion law in the US.
As expected, Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday signed the controversial Alabama Human Life Protection Act, which outlaws almost all abortions in the state, nearly 24 hours after the Republican-controlled Senate voted to send her the bill without adding exceptions for victims of rape and incest despite impassioned pleas from their Democratic colleagues.
"To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God," Ivey said in a statement.
Ivey added that the bill, which won't take effect for six months, "closely resembled an abortion ban that has been a part of Alabama law for well over 100 years."
As a result of the new law, doctors in the state could face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion unless a woman's health is at "serious" risk.
The legislation has garnered intense outrage from Democratic lawmakers, civil rights groups, and people across the country, even concerning some anti-abortion Republican lawmakers who grappled with how restrictive the measure was.
The ACLU has repeatedly said that it will sue the state if the bill became a law, reminding women that "the bill will not take effect anytime in the near future and abortion will remain a safe, legal medical procedure at all clinics in Alabama."
As Ivey confirmed, the bill was designed to challenge the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, which established a woman's constitutional right to end a pregnancy, by attempting to legally define a fetus as a person with rights. Abortion rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood Southeast, have already vowed to challenge the law in court.
"Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973," she said. "The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur."