Using the power we provided them, our elected representatives seem determined to support reckless laws with immoral consequences.
The latest bill to catch national attention apparently is intended to make it more difficult for women to obtain abortions. If that was all the law did, it might be consistent with the wishes of a majority of Alabama voters.
As with most bills designed to make social statements rather than fix problems, House Bill 418 is guilty of frightening governmental overreach.
The bill mandates that doctors administer vaginal ultrasounds to women seeking to terminate a pregnancy, that they display the ultrasound to the mother and that they verbally describe the fetus in case she refuses to look.
The House bill does not just require these steps for conventional abortions. It expressly — albeit with confused language — requires compliance for ectopic pregnancies and removal of an already-dead fetus. It makes no exception for situations in which the fetus is nonviable or genetically deformed. Nor does it make an exception for victims of rape.
The bill expressly requires compliance regardless of the doctor’s judgment on the woman’s mental health or suicidal intent. A doctor who fails to follow the law is guilty of a felony.
Voters could ruefully shake their head as mere observers of another example of governmental overreach, except we were complicit in this one. The representatives we elected — Terri Collins and Micky Hammon, Republicans of Decatur — are cosponsors of the legislation.
Collins — who has sponsored some good bills this session — said she was unaware of the vaginal-ultrasound requirement when she signed the seven-page bill. She said she believes the bill would not apply to ectopic pregnancies, even though the Senate Health Committee — reviewing an identical bill — recognized such nonviable pregnancies were included in the muddled language.
Hammon and Collins may have stumbled into this bill as a way to protest what some agree is a lack of protection for the unborn child. It goes far beyond that goal.
If Collins and Hammon wish to wave pro-life signs and loudly proclaim their opposition to abortion, fine. When they are using the power the people gave them to support a bill that would inject the state into the doctor-patient relationship, however, they need to think through the consequences.