Alabama lawmakers last week introduced three heavily-sponsored bills that in concert would change how a person is defined in the state and potentially make abortion in all circumstances illegal.
Senate Bill 301, introduced by Sen. Phil Williams (R-Cherokee, Etowah), is a proposal to amend the Alabama Code of 1975 to change the definition of the term “person” to mean : “any human being from the moment of fertilization or the functional equivalent thereof.”
Williams’ bill — read for the first time last Tuesday — has 18 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate committee on Health.
Rep. John Merrill (R-Tuscaloosa) filed an identical personhood bill in the House on Thursday, House Bill 405. But taking a step further from just amending the state’s legal code, Merrill also filed House Bill 409, which is a ballot proposal to amend the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, so that every time the word “person” is used in that document it would include “‘all humans from the moment of fertilization.” If HB 409 goes forward, Alabamans would have the opportunity to vote on this amendment either in special election at the end of the year or in 2012.
These bills, which have been referred to the House Health committee, both have 31 co-sponsors, which, according to the attorney Ben DuPré of the Foundation for Moral Law, is “astounding” and a good indication that the laws will pass. DuPré and the national organization Personhood USA helped draft the earlier versions of the legislation, though several anti-aboriton rights groups, such as Alabama Citizens for Life, have backed the bills.
“We must protect all Alabama children,” said Sen. Williams in a Personhood USA statement. “At the same time we have to send a message that Alabamians value the sanctity of life. Every heartbeat is as important as the next.”