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Alabama Senate unanimously passes bill protecting ‘born alive’ abortion survivors, sending bill to governor

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Monday unanimously gave final passage to HB 237, which now heads to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk after passing the House earlier in the session.

Sponsored by State Rep. Ginny Shaver (R-Leesburg), the “born-alive” bill — to be known as “Gianna’s Law” — 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 that 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 state representative from Cherokee County introduced the bill again last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic stopped it from advancing in the legislature.

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.

“A living human child born alive after an abortion or attempted abortion in an abortion or reproductive health center is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are granted by the laws of this 21 state to any other child born alive at any location in this state,” the bill states.

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.”

Senate Democrats’ unanimous support of HB 237 on Monday is a sharp contrast with House Democrats’ positions on the bill. When the measure came up for a vote in the lower chamber on March 18, there were 12 “nay” votes — including Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) — and 10 abstentions.

Monday was the 30th and final day of the 2021 regular session. Both chambers have adjourned sine die.

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

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