Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Alabama Senate had voted to pass the nation’s strictest abortion bill.
After a shouting match broke out, the Alabama Senate on Thursday tabled an amendment to a controversial bill that would criminalize abortions by making performing the procedure a felony punishable by up to 99 years imprisonment.
The decision was made by voice vote, angering Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton and other Democrats who were seeking a roll-call vote on all issues related to the abortion bill.
They accused Alabama Lieut. Gov. Will Ainsworth, a Republican who presides over the senate, of being too quick on the gavel in moving forward with the voice vote and steamrolling over their concerns.
“At least treat us fairly and do it the right way,” Democratic Sen. Vivian Davis Figures said.
As the disagreement escalated, the vote was moved until next week.
The bill, which is expected to be passed by the conservative majority, would be the most restrictive in the country and would impose what is in effect a near-total abortion ban.
Alabama is among more than two dozen states that have sought to impose new restrictions on abortion this year. Georgia on Tuesday became the sixth state to impose a ban on abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy.
Alabama Rep. Terri Collins (R), who sponsored the bill, said its purpose is to spark litigation that would force the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that guarantees a woman’s right to abortion.
Under the Alabama legislation, doctors would not be able to perform abortions once a fetus is “in utero.”
The version that passed in the statehouse allowed for only a single exception, in cases involving a serious health risk “to the unborn child’s mother.” An amendment added in the Senate would also provide for exceptions in the case of rape or incest. That amendment was the subject of fierce debate Thursday.
Gov. Kay Ivey (R), who has described herself as antiabortion, is expected to sign the bill into law, although she has declined to comment directly on the legislation until it is finalized.
This is a developing story.