An exam room at the Whole Woman's Health clinic, in McAllen, Texas on March 4, 2014.
Photo by Jennifer Whitney/The New York Times/Redux

Sponsor of Alabama abortion ban offers head-spinning defense

The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/15/19, 9:08 PM ET

Republicans aim to flip Roe v. Wade with new Alabama abortion law

Rachel Maddow reports on the absurd extremity of Alabama’s new abortion law, and talks with Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent at Slate, about whether Republicans are correct to think legal challenges to abortion bans will lead to the
Before Alabama approved the most sweeping abortion ban in the country, one of the bill’s chief sponsors, Republican Sen. Clyde Chambliss, fielded a question from a colleague. Why, a Democrat asked, should state law block rape victims from terminating an unwanted pregnancy?

The GOP lawmaker responded:

“[Under the new policy] anything that’s available today is still available up until that woman knows she’s pregnant. So there is a window of time, some say seven days, some say ten. There is a window of time that every option that’s on the table now is still available. […]

“So she has to take a pregnancy test, she has to do something to know whether she is pregnant or not. You can’t know that immediately. It takes some time for all those chromosomes and all that that you mentioned. It doesn’t happen immediately.”

He wasn’t kidding. As Rachel noted on last night’s show, the architect of Alabama’s new anti-abortion law defended his proposal by arguing that rape victims can still get abortions just so long as they don’t know they’re pregnant – which is every bit as bewildering as it seems.

On a related note, Donald Trump’s White House celebrated Alabama’s new abortion ban in a statement, which said Democrats support “allowing a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments after birth.”

Perhaps realizing that this doesn’t make physiological sense, the statement was amended to say, “ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth.”

Regardless, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the state’s radical new policy into law late yesterday afternoon, just one day after the bill cleared the Republican-led legislature.

In all likelihood, it won’t actually take effect, at least in the short term, because it will be blocked in the courts. Proponents of the new policy nevertheless hope that the U.S. Supreme Court’s five-member conservative majority will eventually take up the case and strike down the Roe v. Wade precedent.

The right is not, however, entirely united on the subject. Radical TV preacher Pat Robertson said yesterday he believes Alabama has “gone too far” by approving “an extreme law.”

In context, Robertson, a longtime opponent of abortion rights, seemed to be making a tactical argument. “They want to challenge Roe v. Wade, but my humble view is that this is not the case that we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this will lose,” he added.

Abortion, Alabama, Pat Robertson and Reproductive Rights

Sponsor of Alabama abortion ban offers head-spinning defense