MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CBS Atlanta/AP) – The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday approved several abortion restrictions, including one that bans them once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
One lawmaker brought race into the discussion during a debate on the ban.
Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) said that, if his white Republican colleagues were faced with the prospect of having mixed-race grandchildren, they would encourage their daughters to abort them.
“Ninety-nine percent of the all of the white people in here are going to raise their hand that they are against abortion,” he said, according to AL.com. “On the other hand, 99 percent of the whites who are sitting in here now, if their daughter got pregnant by a black man, they are going to make their daughter have an abortion.”
His comments were met with rumbles from those assembled at the time that can be heard on a recording obtained by the Alabama news website.
“Listen, you know, the truth sometimes hurts,” he added in response, his voice raised.
Bill sponsor Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Indian Springs, said a heartbeat is universally accepted as an indication of life and should be protected.
“Abortion is taking a life,” McClurkin said.
If it wins final approval, the legislation, which is now going to be considered in the Senate, would tie Alabama with North Dakota as having the most stringent abortion law in the country. It is a direct challenge to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion up until a fetus is considered viable. Opponents called the bill blatantly unconstitutional and destined to be held up by the courts.
The National Institutes of Health’s website for patients says an embryonic or fetal heartbeat can be heard when a woman is six to seven weeks pregnant. A doctor who performs an abortion when a heartbeat is present would be guilty of a Class C felony, under the bill.
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