Alabama’s new Human Life Protection Act is less than three-and-a-half pages long. But even the bill’s mere 1,511 words appear to have proved too taxing for left-wing legislators determined to oppose it.
Freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who is frequently wrong but never in doubt, inveighed on Twitter, “Alabama lawmakers are making all abortions a felony punishable w jailtime,incl [sic] women victimized by rape+incest.” In reality, the law does not outlaw all abortions; it does not demand jail time for all doctors who perform abortions, and it explicitly protects women who procure abortions from prosecution.
While the law bans most abortions in Alabama, section 4b lists certain exceptions. “An abortion shall be permitted,” the law explains, “if an attending physician licensed in Alabama determines that an abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother.” If the pregnancy poses a serious risk to the life of the mother, the law permits abortion.
In all other cases, the bill outlaws abortion throughout the state. But does it therefore follow that women who procure abortions in violation of the law will face punishment, as AOC asserts? Here again, in section 5, the law makes itself clear: “No woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed shall be criminally or civilly liable.” Doctors who perform abortions may face serious criminal consequences, but women will not.
Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t alone in failing to read the bill before pontificating about what she imagined it said. Paul McLeod, a political reporter for BuzzFeed, spread the same lie. “Backers of an Alabama bill to outlaw abortion, which would punish even rape victims with up to 99 years in prison, admit the bill may go too far,” he wrote.
U.S. senator and 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker likewise opined, “Bills like this…aim to punish women.” Booker has yet to explain how the bill’s explicit refusal to punish women accomplishes its aim of punishing women.
Whether from laziness or cynicism, left-wing politicians and journalists continue to spread the lie that Alabama’s new abortion bill punishes women. It doesn't — just ask the female governor likely to sign it into law.