MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — In the weeks ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision eliminating a constitutional right to abortion access, CBS 42 reached out to Alabama’s 140 state lawmakers about the future of reproductive rights in the state. Only five legislators — three Republicans and two Democrats — responded to the five-question survey. While a limited sample, the lawmakers’ wide-ranging views offer some insight into the future of reproductive rights in the Yellowhammer State.
The survey, sent repeatedly to contact emails listed on the legislature’s website, asked senators and representatives about their views on access to abortion and Plan B, an emergency contraceptive. The questions sent to lawmakers are listed below.
- Do you believe women should be legally allowed to obtain abortion services during the first trimester of pregnancy if there are no extenuating circumstances like rape, incest, or protecting the life of the mother?
- Do you believe women should be legally allowed to obtain abortion services during the first trimester of pregnancy in cases of rape?
- Do you believe women should be legally allowed to obtain abortion services during the first trimester of pregnancy in cases of incest?
- Do you believe that women should be legally allowed to obtain abortion services when medically necessary to protect the life of the mother?
- Do you believe emergency contraceptives like Plan B should continue to be legally available to women in Alabama?
Sen. Linda Coleman Madison, a Democrat and Birmingham native, minced no words when she responded to CBS 42’s survey. Madison, who’s served in the Alabama Senate since 2006, said that she’s in favor of abortion during the first trimester, in cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother. Plan B should be available when prescribed by a doctor, she said.
After she completed the survey, Sen. Coleman Madison contacted CBS 42, saying that she thought the questions asked were biased.
“Why are there no questions on this survey about the person (man) who impregnated the woman and holding them responsible?” She asked. “Women don’t get pregnant by themselves.”
She said that men should be “held responsible” for their roles in pregnancies as well.
“Why is it always the woman’s fault when it takes two?” she asked. “If we were regulated men’s penises, they’d be livid.”
Rep. Neil Rafferty, the only other Democrat to answer the survey, also answered every question affirmatively.
Each of the three Republicans who responded to the survey said that they oppose abortions in the first trimester when no extenuating circumstances (rape, incest, life of the mother) exist. Beyond that, Republican responses reflected a wide range of views on abortion and emergency contraceptive access.
Rep. Kerry Rich, a Republican who’s represented parts of Marshall and DeKalb Counties since 2010, said he’s opposed to allowing abortions in cases of rape, but would allow it in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.
In cases of incest, the Alabama lawmaker said he’ll “have to pray over that.”
“This is a tough one,” Rich wrote. “Not sure what my position would be. If you believe as I do that God not only knows our past but our future. I believe a fetus is a human being, but incest is an awful evil thing. I’m going to have to pray over that.”
Rich also said he believes emergency contraceptives should not be legally available to women in the state.
Rep. Charlotte Meadows, a Montgomery Republican, said she’s opposed to abortion access, even in cases of rape or incest, but would support access in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.
In response to the question about access to emergency contraceptives, Meadows didn’t provide a yes or no answer.
“I don’t know what Plan B is, but if it’s abortion by prescription, then no,” Meadows wrote.
Rep. Alan Baker, a Republican representing Baldwin and Escambia Counties, offered the most moderate view of any GOP lawmakers.
“I’m a pro-life and oppose abortion in general,” he wrote. “However, I do support abortion as an option for such cases as rape, incest, and when necessary to protect the mother’s life.”
Baker said he was unsure of his position on legal access to Plan B and other emergency contraceptives.
“I need more information before taking a stance,” he said.