House passes four bills to restrict abortions

Published 5:01 pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Alabama House of Representatives passed four bills on Tuesday placing restrictions on abortions throughout the state.

House Bill 493, sponsored by Rep. Kurt Wallace, R-Maplesville, requiring doctors to inform women of the option of perinatal hospice care before an abortion was one of the bills approved Tuesday.

“It has been a great day for children in Alabama today,” Wallace said.

House Bill 493 would require doctors to give women considering an abortion information about perinatal hospice services and a 48-hour waiting period before the pregnancy could be terminated.

The bill passed with a vote of 73 to 24 and would provide that in cases where an unborn child has been diagnosed with a fatal anomaly that no abortion could be performed until a physician informs the woman in person that perinatal hospice services are available as an alternative to abortion.

A lethal fetal anomaly is defined as a condition diagnosed before birth that will likely result in the death of the child within three months after birth.

Wallace said there are currently no perinatal hospice groups located in Alabama, but they are becoming popular across the United States as they provide support for families who wish to continue their pregnancies with babies who will likely die before or shortly after birth.

“The more information potential parents are provided about positive alternatives to abortion, the more likely they will be to make a positive choice,” Wallace said in a release.

The perinatal hospice information must be shared prior to performing an abortion, and a woman must certify in writing that she declines the hospice services after receiving the information.

This bill would require the Alabama Public Health Department to create the materials to be shared, which include a list of hospice agencies and a description of the services they provide.

Failure to comply with the act would result in a Class B misdemeanor on the first offense, a Class A misdemeanor on the second offense and a Class C felony on the third.

“I am excited that the mothers and parents of children diagnosed with a fatal anomaly will now be exposed to information that will give them options that were never presented to them in the past,” Wallace said.

Three other pro-life bills approved Tuesday included House Bill 490 sponsored by Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin.

The bill would prohibit abortions in cases where a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks.

House Bill 489, sponsored by Rep. Ed Henry, strengthens the Women’s Right to Know Act by increasing the period of time a woman must wait before having an abortion from 24 hours to 48 hours.

The woman would also receive state-mandated information about adoption services before undergoing the abortion.

House Bill 494, sponsored by Rep. Mike Jones, would toughen parental consent requirements for minors seeking an abortion.

All four bills will now move to the Senate.