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GOP governor says abortion ban shows Alabama values 'sanctity of life'

Gov. Kay Ivey, after signing the most stringent abortion law in the nation, said she doesn't expect any backlash from businesses or tourism.
Image: Kay Ivey
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey gives the annual State of the State address at the Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. on Jan. 9, 2018.Brynn Anderson / AP file

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama's governor said Monday the new abortion ban she recently signed into law reflects the high value residents place on the "sanctity of life," adding she doesn't expect any fallout from the controversial measure on tourism or business recruitment.

Gov. Kay Ivey last week approved the most stringent abortion law in the nation — making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases unless necessary for the mother's health. The law provides no exception for rape and incest. Asked about criticism the state has received— particularly over the lack of an exception for rape and industry — the Republican governor noted the bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Alabama Legislature without the exceptions.

"The Legislature has spoken," she said. "It underscores the sanctity of life the people of Alabama value so highly."

The Republican governor was asked about the ban after a news conference Monday about the state tourism industry. The bill's passage drew calls on social media by some opponents to boycott the state in protest.

Ivey brushed off any suggestions protesters could do any possible harm to tourism and efforts to woo new industry and business to Alabama.

"Alabama has a lot of different variety of things to visit and enjoy and our visitors will continue to come," Ivey said.

The law does not take effect for six months and legal challenges are widely expected to block it in the courts.

On Sunday, hundreds of marchers took to the streets in Montgomery, Birmingham and Huntsville to protest the abortion ban that Ivey signed into law. Crowds chanted "my body, my choice!" and "vote them out!"

"Banning abortion does not stop abortion. It stops safe abortion," said Staci Fox, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, addressing the cheering crowd outside the Alabama Capitol.

Carrying an orange sign with a coat hanger and the caption "No Never Again," 69-year-old Deborah Hall of Montgomery said she remembers life before Roe and can't believe the push to return there.

"I know what that time is like. I had friends who had illegal abortions and barely survived," said Hall, who for a time ran a clinic in Montgomery that provided abortion, birth control and other services.

Alabama is part of a wave of conservative states seeking to mount new legal challenges to Roe v. Wade , the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Governors in Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.

Marchers on Sunday said the measures have energized supporters of legalized abortion, and they say they are digging in for a legal and political fight.

"We are coming for their seats," Fox said of legislators who approved the ban.