House Bill 314 is taking us to $0




  

bill314

     




Caleb Wood
Opinion Columnist
calwood@uab.edu 

If the Alabama state government is good at one thing, it’s grandstanding. House Bill 314, the trainwreck of an abortion bill that just rolled out of the capitol is a perfect example of that.

 

            As it stands, legislators in our state have passed a bill that would apply a penalty to performing an abortion equal to murder. The bill is deliberately unconstitutional. Republicans know this. They didn’t write this bill for it to go into effect.

 

            This bill is not going to take effect for a long time, if ever. The only way it could is if Roe v. Wade is overturned. That is an extremely unlikely thing to happen. What is guaranteed, though, are lawsuits.

 

            While the bill is aimed at hurting pregnant women, the side effects of its passage can damage many people who have no stake in the issue whatsoever.

 

            The state is going to spend millions and millions of dollars on lawsuits. Alabama is no stranger fighting quixotic crusades against basic human rights. They have paid nearly four million dollars to the ACLU on them since 2013 alone. That is money that could be spent on teachers, healthcare, prisons, or one of the many other desperately underfunded aspects of our government.  

 

            Republicans do not care about the cost. They voted down an amendment by Sen. Vivian Davis Figures that would have required members of the legislature to pay for legal fees. They are going to push ahead with this issue no matter how it hurts those in the state.

 

           Furthermore, it is eating up time that lawmakers could be using to work on legislation that would have some benefit for the state. The State Senate spent over four hours debating this bill. That time would have been of far better use if they had spent it on finding ways to cover the $35 million Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) shortfall.

 

          It has already damaged our reputation. Like clockwork, articles are coming out denouncing the actions taken by our government. In our neighbor Georgia, the passage of a similar bill this month has already led five production companies to announce they will no longer film in the state. For Alabama’s small but growing film industry and the jobs it provides, that could be a death sentence.

 

            House Bill 314 is so unconstitutional that it may never take effect. It will still damage our state in other ways. It will put a drain on our reputation, funds, and legislative time that we can never get back. It already has.

 

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