MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday night passed State Rep. Ginny Shaver’s (R-Leesburg) anti-infanticide bill, with Democrats in the chamber unanimously opposing the measure.
HB 491 would safeguard against infanticide by requiring a doctor to administer the same level of medical care to a child born alive after an abortion attempt as they would any other child.
The “born-alive” bill was introduced by Shaver after the publicized rise of support for infanticide amongst national Democrats, especially following in the wake of statements by policymakers in New York and Virginia.
Shaver has said, “There is no such thing as post-birth abortion. Think about those three words. That’s infanticide.”
“That’s what it is and what my bill does is in this situation where a child survives an abortion attempt and is born alive, it would require a physician to exercise the same reasonable care to preserve the life of the child that is born alive,” she continued. “When this happens, if there is any sign of breathing or any other sign of life … there would then exist a doctor-patient relationship between the doctor and the child so that he would be required to exercise the same degree of physical skill and care to make an effort to reasonably preserve the life and health of that child.”
House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) was the sole original cosponsor of Shaver’s bill. He has been a strong pro-life voice throughout his time in office, including this legislative session.
Democrats filibustered the bill on Tuesday. Cloture had to be invoked shortly before the day’s business had to end at midnight on Tuesday.
The final vote on the bill as substituted was 66-18. No Republicans voted against HB 491, while only one Democrat, State Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham), voted for the legislation. It was immediately unclear if Givan accidentally vote “yay,” as she spoke passionately in opposition to the bill on the floor several times.
This came after the official Twitter account for the Alabama House Democratic Caucus claimed the anti-infanticide bill equals “criminalizing doctors who attempt to help women make their own choice with their own body.”
To be clear, HB 491 only deals with children born alive pursuant to an abortion attempt. The bill has nothing to do with a woman’s “right” to an abortion, as Shaver said on the floor.
“I really do not see the controversy in this issue,” Shaver emphasized. “I do not see how anyone with a conscience could oppose rendering aid to a child born-alive.”
Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in recent days has called Republican state legislators “callous” and “extreme” for their pro-life views.
HB 491 mandates, “A living human child born alive after an abortion or premature birth is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are granted by the laws of this state to any other child born alive after the normal gestation period.”
State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) has said that Jones called him to say he agreed with Rogers’ viral abortion comments.
During Tuesday’s debate, State Rep. Barbara Boyd (D-Anniston) worried that opposing infanticide would cause economic boycotts of the state of Alabama. This came after Boyd claimed last week said that dyslexia does not exist.
Rogers called HB 491 “about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in my life.”
The bill now goes to the Senate.
If HB 491 becomes law, it shall be officially known as “Gianna’s Law,” named after a survivor of an attempted abortion who is now 42-years-old and travels the world telling her story. Shaver has met the woman (Gianna Jessen) and called her an inspiration.
State Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) said a baby born-alive after an attempted abortion is not “a person.” Coleman asserted such a baby would still be a “fetus” and would not deserve the chance to live. She referred to the mother as “the host,” seemingly implying that the unborn baby is a parasite using that analogy.
Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile) said she does not see a difference between the born-alive/anti-infanticide HB 491 and the near-total abortion ban of HB 314, which was signed into law last week by Governor Kay Ivey.
Update 6:00 a.m.
Givan intended to vote “nay.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn