About 4 in 10 abortions in America are performed using pills, as opposed to the more high-profile surgical procedures.
That’s what Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle Shoals, said led him to file HB 261 to criminalize the manufacture, distribution, prescription, sale or transfer of Mifeprex, commonly known as the abortion pill. Violating the law would be a class C felony.
“The new trend is chemical abortion,” Sorrell told members of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. “The doctor tells you to go home, take the pill, sit on the toilet and when the bleeding starts, don’t look and keep flushing.”
Sorrell said this sometimes results in the live birth of the embryo.
The abortion pill works in two stages, with Mifeprex causing the uterine lining to shed, preventing the embryo from receiving vital nutrients and detaching it from the uterine wall.
Then 24 to 48 hours later a second pill known as misoprostol which causes bleeding and cramping in the uterus to dissipate the dead embryo, which is about the size of a marble depending on when the pill is is taken.
The pill should be taken within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill would not criminalize women who use the pill to have an abortion.
Sorrell clarified that this bill would not affect the “morning after pill” or any other contraceptive medication. It only prohibits relevant abortifacient drugs at a time when a pregnancy can be revealed by conventional tests.
Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said it was a “pet peeve” that the bill included legislative findings. Legislative findings reiterate Alabama’s position against abortion and outline the procedure. Sorrell said the findings were included by Students for Life of America, an anti-abortion nonprofit organization behind the bill. He accepted a floor amendment that would remove the findings from the bill.
“I don’t think they’re needed for the bill,” Sorrell said.
The bill received an unopposed favorable report and is returned to the full House for consideration.
The ACLU of Alabama released a statement criticizing the bill.
“This bill is not about women’s health,” said Kaitlin Welborn, reproductive rights attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. “Study after study has shown this drug to be safer than Tylenol or Viagra. Let’s call this bill what it is: another excuse for the Alabama legislature to play doctor and meddle in options health care available to the people of that state.”
Alabama already has a law on the books making almost all abortions illegal, including chemical abortions. However, that law is currently stalled in federal courts as the state waits for it to reach the U.S. Supreme Court for an earth-shattering blow to Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s right to abortion until approximately 24 weeks. Overturning the Supreme Court’s decision would send the abortion issue back to the states.