MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Legislature is tightening regulations for girls under 18 seeking abortions, but a bill that would ban most abortions in the state appears dead.
The Senate voted 28-5 Thursday for a revised version of the bill setting new regulations for minors seeking abortions. The House agreed 83-15 and sent the bill to the governor for signing into law.
The Senate approved a work agenda for its final meeting day that did not include a House-passed bill that would ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That can occur at six to seven weeks into a pregnancy.
Republican Senate leaders said similar laws in North Dakota and Arkansas are being challenged in court, and they want to wait on rulings. "I don't think it's constitutional," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Cam Ward, R-Alabaster said.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin of Indian Springs, said, "I'm very, very disappointed that they didn't have the fortitude to do that."
McClurkin, who is retiring from the Legislature, said she considered it the most important bill of the election-year session. "For them not to do it really was crushing," she said.
Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, said waiting for the court cases on the Arkansas and North Dakota laws makes the most sense for Alabama taxpayers because the Alabama legislation would have been challenged in court.
The American Civil Liberties Union and others are suing state officials over an abortion law the Legislature passed last year. It requires doctors at abortion clinics to have approval to admit patients at nearby hospitals. A federal judge has put the law on hold and has scheduled a trial May 19.