Update, 9:15 p.m.: The Alabama House of Representatives passed the bill by a 73-23 vote. It now moves to the Senate.
The Alabama House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday on a bill that would place heavy restrictions on abortion in the state because, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R), “when a physician removes a child from a woman, that’s the largest organ in a body.”
The bill would place a host of regulations on Alabama’s five abortion clinics. The Montgomery Advertiser reports:
The legislation […] would require physicians at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals; require clinics to follow ambulatory clinic building codes and make it a felony — punishable by up to 10 years in prison — for a nurse, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant to dispense abortion-inducing medications.
The requirement that all doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital is the same rule that is currently threatening Mississippi’s last abortion clinic. Hospitals are not required to grant doctors admitting privileges, so if local hospitals chose not to allow doctors to admit patients, abortion providers will not be able to comply with the law. That is exactly what has happened in Mississippi. (Currently, the clinic in Mississippi is open while it awaits a hearing with the state health department.)
“That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that,” McClurkin told The Montgomery Advertiser. Nevermind that the liver, the second-largest organ after the skin, is about the size of a football and larger than a first- or second-trimester fetus: McClurkin’s assertion that the fetus is an organ contradicts the idea of fetal personhood, a favorite Republican rationale for banning abortion. Organs are not people. That makes McClurkin’s comment possibly the most creative excuse for throttling abortion clinics in a while.
“Her comments alone prove the intent of the bill,” says Nikema Williams, a vice president at Planned Parenthood Southeast. Williams says the bill is “designed to close down all of the abortion providers in the state of Alabama.” The House of Representatives will vote on the bill Tuesday afternoon, Williams says.