Describing pre-born life as “a sacred gift from God,” Alabama’s Southern Baptist governor on Wednesday signed into law the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban.
“To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,” Gov. Kay Ivey said after signing HB314, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act.
The law, passed overwhelmingly by both the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate, makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison except in the rarest of circumstances. There is no exception for rape or incest.
“Abortion advocates speak to women’s rights, but they ignore the unborn child, while medical science has increasingly recognized the humanity of the unborn child,” the bill reads in part.
“It is estimated that 6,000,000 Jewish people were murdered in German concentration camps during World War II; 3,000,000 people were executed by Joseph Stalin’s regime in Soviet gulags; 2,500,000 people were murdered during the Chinese ‘Great Leap Forward’ in 1958; 1,500,000 to 3,000,000 people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the 1970s; and approximately 1,000,000 people were murdered during the Rwandan genocide in 1994,” the legislation reads.
“All of these are widely acknowledged to have been crimes against humanity,” the bill continues. “By comparison, more than 50 million babies have been aborted in the United States since the Roe decision in 1973, more than three times the number who were killed in German death camps, Chinese purges, Stalin’s gulags, Cambodian killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined.”
Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, policy director for the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the measure a “momentous law to protect the lives of the unborn.”
“This is progress toward the day we long for, when abortion is unimaginable because the humanity of the child is undeniable,” Sobolik said in comments quoted by Baptist Press.
Joe Godfrey, executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, said he expects the law to be challenged in court.
“Our hope and prayer is that this law will be used to overturn [Roe v. Wade] and that the lives of babies in the wombs of their mothers will be protected once again in our state and nation” Godfrey told the Southern Baptist Convention news service.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice denounced the bill as “an assault on the human rights of women and an affront to the religious convictions and values shared by the many faiths.”
“Our values say each person is created in the image of God with free will to make moral decisions about their bodies, their families, and their lives,” the interfaith group said in a statement. “Compassion, not shame, drives our faithful commitment to reproductive dignity for all. We strongly condemn this attempt by the Alabama legislature to strip away the reproductive decision-making of pregnant people.”
The RCRC said laws restricting abortion being passed in Alabama and elsewhere treat “conservative Christianity as though it were the only authentic religious point of view.”
“It isn’t,” the statement said. “We are Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and of no faith, and we demand accountability from our elected officials in protecting religious liberty, which requires ensuring that no one set of religious beliefs is ever imposed on us all.”