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Alabama House committee approves anti-infanticide bill

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday advanced a “born-alive” bill that would be known as “Gianna’s Law.”

HB 248 by State Rep. Ginny Shaver (R-Leesburg) was given a favorable report as amended on a voice vote. The bill must next be considered by the full House.

The legislation is named after a survivor of an attempted abortion who now travels the world telling her story. Shaver has met the woman (Gianna Jessen) and called her an inspiration.

Shaver originally introduced a version of this anti-infanticide legislation during the 2019 regular session of the Alabama legislature. Her bill last year passed the House, with Democrats in the chamber unanimously opposing the legislation. The legislation then stalled in the Senate over concerns from the medical community.

The 2019 legislation 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. Her current legislation would also purport to 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.

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 last year and is listed as the first cosponsor this year on HB 248. He has been a strong pro-life voice throughout his time in office. Ledbetter is joined by 51 Republican colleagues, including Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), in cosponsoring HB 248.

Speaking during Wednesday’s committee meeting, State Reps. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) and Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) took issue with HB 248. Coleman is the vice-chair of the House Minority Caucus, and England is the chair of the Alabama Democratic Party.

“We’re going to pass this bill out of committee today because there’s a larger agenda,” Coleman decried.

Coleman and England lamented the lack of Alabama-specific data available to support the stated need for the bill. Shaver countered that the relevant data is not required to be collected in the state, which is why she does not have said data to offer.

England further critically remarked that he viewed doctors and women as being “demonized” by the bill, as he believes it assumes that viable babies born-alive during or after an attempted abortion would be intentionally killed or left to die. England suggested the Hippocratic Oath already mandates the doctor to do his or her best to save the baby in that scenario.

Shaver advised that she knows the bill is necessary because of her personal experience as both a crisis pregnancy counselor and a post-abortion counselor. Shaver advised that she heard stories directly from people she counseled about born-alive abortions occurring in Alabama abortion clinics.

“We’re wasting 30 minutes of time today on a piece of legislation that we do not need,” Coleman said.

Shaver’s bill was filed shortly before State Rep. Rolanda Hollis (D-Birmingham) filed a bill that would mandate every Alabama man to undergo a vasectomy within one month of his 50th birthday or the birth of his third biological child, whichever comes first.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn