On Thursday the Alabama Senate adjourned after an abortion bill debate descended into chaos. Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth gaveled a voice vote through before Democrats could ask for a roll call vote. (Mike Cason/mcason@al.com)

I’ve seen Alabama lawmakers try some stupid things, but never anything so cowardly.

On Thursday, lawmakers were set to vote to force victims of rape and incest to have their rapists’ babies — only some of them didn’t want their names attached to the bill.

Instead, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth tried to push the near-total abortion ban through without a roll call vote on amendments that would have created exceptions for rape and incest.


The bill didn’t pass. It was carried over after Democrats and some Republicans raised hell. There will likely be a do-over next week.

But you need to see this, Alabama. Because the whole country is going to see this. And you need to let these folks know whether they speak for you. And once the vote is taken, you have a right to know where your lawmakers stood.

Here’s how it went down.

Last week, the Alabama House passed what would be the strictest abortion ban in the country. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, would make abortions in all instances, except when the mother’s life is in danger, a felony.

That bill did not include the exceptions that have been boilerplate in these things before — for pregnancies that result from rape or incest.

Collins argued that those exceptions had to be left out because the bill is designed to challenge Roe v. Wade. It’s not an incremental chipping-away at the landmark Supreme Court decision, but a direct assault.

That bill passed the Alabama House. As cruel as the bill might be to rape victims, at least the lawmakers in the lower house put their names on it. At least they owned their votes.

But not in the Alabama Senate.

On Wednesday, the bill moved through the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee, but not before Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, introduced amendments to it including exceptions for rape and incest. It was a small victory.

And a short-lived one.

Before Democrats could get a word in at the podium, the bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, motioned to table the amendments. Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth upheld the motion before anyone could demand a roll call vote.

In short, they intended to ram this thing through without anyone else having to put their names on it.

State Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, erupted in anger. Chambliss muttered and sputtered while Singleton shouted over him. Ainsworth tried to gavel Singleton down. Some Republicans, including Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, and Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, stood behind the Democrats and seemed to take their side. State Senator Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, appealed to her colleagues for fairness.

“I know this bill is going to pass,” Figures said. “You are going to get your way. But at least treat us fairly and do it the right way. That’s all that I ask. That’s all that my Democratic colleagues ask. That’s all that women in this state ask, both Democratic and Republican women.”

Ultimately, Marsh moved that the Senate hold over the bill until the call of the chair and adjourn. He encouraged his colleagues to take the weekend to cool off and speak with their constituents.

That’s a lot of procedural back-and-forth, but here’s what it means.

It means that when some poor young girl, inevitably, has to have her dirty uncle’s baby, the Alabama lawmakers who vote for this thing don’t want their names attached to it.

It means all the talk about personal responsibility is just talk.

It means owning choices is something for women in Alabama (even when they never had a choice) but not for Alabama lawmakers.

It means they’re scared.

It means they are cowards.

It means they are hypocrites.

And it means the newly elected lieutenant governor was not just going to let them get away with it. He tried to help. (Ainsworth insisted to me later that the voice vote wasn’t rushed and that it was fair. I’m embedding video of it here so you can watch and decide for yourself.)

Figures argued that today’s chaos was over fairness, but it’s about more than that. This is about accountability and character — and those who’d walk away from all those things.

If you’re going to do this, lawmakers, don’t hide. Don’t cheat. And don’t lie.

Take responsibility for it.

If you’re going to bring this bill into the world, let everybody know who the father was.

[Correction: A previous version of this column said it was state Sen. Bobby Singleton who introduced amendments in committee. In fact, it was state Sen. Tom Whatley, and the column has been corrected.]

Source: https://www.al.com/news/2019/05/if-youre-going-to-pass-this-abortion-bill-alabama-senators-put-your-names-on-it.html?fbclid=IwAR0uk4ixpEEU92UfwL7Z5APQEJzEh_My1uoFRRMg-JnIJR1iPXraHf7AEIw