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.
On Wednesday, the Legislature gave final approval to a bill extending the waiting period for abortions from 24 hours to 48 hours after a woman receives information from an abortion clinic about the risks of abortion, gestational development, and alternatives to abortion.
The bill affecting abortions by girls under 18 was sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Jones of Andalusia. It amends a state law that requires a parent or a judge to approve a girl getting an abortion. Abortion opponents say some are getting abortions by having someone pose as a parent.
Jones' bill requires a parent to present proof of parenthood, such as a birth certificate, and sign a document approving the abortion.
The bill also sets stricter requirements for judges to approve a girl getting an abortion without a parent's knowledge. The girl must present evidence that she is mature enough to make the decision on her own and that it is in her best interest to make the decision without her parents. The bill also allows a judge to appoint an attorney to represent the fetus when deciding whether to approve an abortion.
"My motivation for this is protecting our kids," Jones said.
"This bill will survive legal scrutiny," Ward said.
Another abortion bill passed by the House was left off the Senate's work agenda and was considered dead by Republican Senate leaders. It would have required women seeking an abortion because of lethal fetal anomalies to be advised about the availability of perinatal hospice services.