"It's no secret that I'm against abortion, and that's why I support the bill," said Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, a co-sponsor of the heartbeat bill.
The House Committee on Health has planned a public hearing Wednesday for HB490, a bill that would require an abortion doctor to assess whether a fetus has a heartbeat. Performing an abortion when a heartbeat is present would be a Class C felony, punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison. The bill states that a woman who gets an abortion would not be subject to criminal charges.
Attempts to reach the bill's sponsor, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Indian Springs, were unsuccessful Monday.
McClurkin's bill is perhaps the most restrictive of the abortion bills expected to come before the Health Committee Wednesday. House members will also hold public hearings on a bill to require a 48-hour waiting period before an abortion, a bill to establish stricter rules for minors seeking an abortion and a bill to require abortion providers to tell a woman about the availability of hospice care for newborns if she's seeking an abortion because of a lethal fetal anomaly.
Shirley Ann Rawls, president of the Alabama branch of the National Organization for Women, said the fetal heartbeat bill wouldn't stand up in court.
"They're just trying to chip away at Roe v. Wade piece by piece," she said. "It's disappointing."
McClurkin sponsored a bill last year that imposed new regulations on abortion clinics, including a requirement that abortions be performed only by doctors with admitting privileges at local hospitals. Advocates of the restrictions said they were to make abortion safer, but pro-choice groups said they were an attempt to drive abortion providers out of business. The bill passed and is currently the subject of a federal court battle.
Michael Gladden, Nordgren's Democratic opponent in the 2014 election, said he's "personally against abortions," but felt the Legislature should spend its time on job creation and education.
"This is an important issue," he said. "However, we've got a lot of other issues that haven't already been decided by the Supreme Court."
Capitol & statewide correspondent Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.