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Alabama breaks new ground with radical anti-abortion measure

A view of the state capitol on March 6, 2015 in Montgomery, Ala. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)
A view of the state capitol on March 6, 2015 in Montgomery, Ala.

In recent years, we've seen plenty of states take on radical anti-abortion legislation. We have not, however, seen anything quite like Alabama's new policy.

The Alabama state Senate on Tuesday approved a bill essentially banning abortion in the state, a move specifically aimed at challenging more than 40 years of federal abortion protection under Roe v. Wade. The bill would make it a felony for a doctor to perform or attempt an abortion during any stage of pregnancy. [...]The bill easily passed the Senate 25-6. It now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, who has not indicated whether she will sign it. If she does, it would be the strictest abortion law in the country.

One of the things that makes Alabama's measure extraordinary is its radical simplicity: it simply bans all abortions, at every stage of pregnancy. Women who can prove that a pregnancy puts their lives at risk can get an abortion, but no one else will be legally eligible.

As Rachel noted on last night's show, "Rape victims and incest victims -- even juveniles -- as of this bill just passed by the Alabama legislature tonight, they will be forced to give birth against their will, along with any other woman in the state who ends up pregnant by any other means."

Under the new policy, physicians found to have terminated unwanted pregnancies face up to 99 years in prison.

If the state's Republican governor signs the bill into law, as appears likely, the policy will face immediate legal challenges. The proposal's proponents, naturally, expect a court fight, though they also expect to eventually prevail.

Indeed, one of the Alabama lawmakers who helped sponsor the bill told NBC News yesterday, "This bill's purpose is to hopefully get to the Supreme Court."

Many on the right believe, for good reason, that Donald Trump and his Republican allies have shifted the balance of power on the U.S. Supreme Court. It's only a matter of time, the argument goes, before the Roe v. Wade precedent is struck down at the hands of five conservative justices, two of whom are on the high court thanks to Trump.

Those assumptions were bolstered this week when Justice Stephen Breyer signaled in a dissent that Roe's days may very well be numbered.