Garlan Gudger

Garlan Gudger at the AGCO ribbon cutting in Bremen.

MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s legislation banning nearly all abortions, signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey, is receiving both praise and criticism across the nation.

The law’s sponsors want to give conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to gut abortion rights nationwide.

State Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, is among those who praised Ivey for signing the bill. In a prepared statement, he said:

“I appreciate Governor Ivey standing strong for life by signing House Bill 314 into law.

“I am a pro-life voice for my district. I believe that abortion is murder, and I voted according to my convictions on HB314. People have asked me why I did not support adding the amendment regarding rape and incest to this bill. If I would have voted to add these exceptions to the bill, there would arise a fallacy in our own argument to defend the pro-life stance, because an unborn baby is a person who deserves protection, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

“There is no doubt that the ACLU and other liberal groups will contest this bill in court, but that’s the point — HB314 is designed to protect life and to challenge Roe v. Wade. Advances in ultrasound technology since 1973, when Roe was decided, show what we know in our hearts: the baby in the womb is a person, and as such, deserves our love and protection.”

Gudger represents state Senate District 4, which is comprised of all or parts of Cullman, Lawrence, Marion, and Winston counties. 

Democrats and abortion rights advocates criticized the legislation as a slap in the face to women.

The abortion ban would go into effect in six months if it isn’t blocked by legal challenges.

The top House Republican said Thursday that Alabama’s new state law banning almost all abortions goes too far.

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, told reporters that the law, which doesn’t allow exceptions for abortions in cases of rape and incest, “goes further than I believe.”

McCarthy said he believes in “exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”

McCarthy wouldn’t take a stand on whether the Supreme Court should strike down the measure, the strictest abortion law in the nation, if a challenge were to reach the court. Opinion polls show widespread opposition to overturning the high court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which could return the issue back to the states.

Republicans struggled to win over suburban women in last year’s midterm elections and the controversy over abortion restrictions could prove politically troublesome.

Republicans have been on the offensive this year trying to link congressional Democrats to late-term abortion measures pushed by some of the party’s most liberal forces in state legislatures such as New York’s.

But U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, condemned Alabama’s new abortion ban as “extreme” and “irresponsible” Thursday, a day after the state’s Republican governor signed the most restrictive abortion measure in the country into law.

“I think this bill, frankly, is shameful. It is callous,” Jones told reporters. “This bill uses rape victims and victims of incest at all ages, even minors, as political pawns.”

Jones, the lone Democrat to hold statewide office in Alabama, said he thought the debate was focused on the “most extreme voices on both sides.”

“I just don’t think that it is representative of what most people in Alabama think or what they want from the government,” he said.

But the law’s sponsor, Rep. Terri Collins, said she believes a majority of Alabamians support it: 59% of state voters in November agreed to write anti-abortion language in the Alabama Constitution, saying the state recognizes the rights of the “unborn.”

“It’s to address the issue that Roe. v. Wade was decided on: Is that baby in the womb a person?” Collins said.

Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia recently approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur in about the sixth week of pregnancy. Missouri’s Republican-led Senate voted early Thursday to ban abortions at eight weeks, with no rape or incest exceptions.

The Alabama bill goes further by seeking to ban abortion outright.

Abortion rights advocates vowed swift legal action.

Evangelist Pat Robertson on his television show Wednesday said the Alabama law is “extreme” and opined it may not be the best one to bring to the U.S. Supreme Court in the hopes of overturning Roe “because I think this one will lose.” 

“God bless them they are trying to do something,” Robertson said.

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