The bill was approved in the Alabama Senate on Tuesday night, with 25 state senators voting in favour and just six voting against. It would make performing an abortion at any stage of a pregnancy a felony, punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison for the provider.
There is one exception to the ban, and that comes when a woman’s health would be at serious risk if the abortion were not performed.
The text of the legislation — which does not have exceptions for rape or incest — explicitly compares abortion since the landmark passage of Roe v Wade to the slaughter of Jews during the Second World War.
It reads: “It is estimated that 6,000,000 Jewish people were murdered in German concentration camps during World War II; 3,000,000 people were executed by Joseph Stalin's regime in Soviet gulags; 2,500,000 people were murdered during the Chinese “Great Leap Forward” in 1958; 1,500,000 to 3,000,000 people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the 1970s; and approximately 1,000,000 people were murdered during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
“All of these are widely acknowledged to have been crimes against humanity. By comparison, more than 50 million babies have been aborted in the United States since the Roe decision in 1973, more than three times the number who were killed in German death camps, Chinese purges, Stalin's gulags, Cambodian killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined.“
Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel for state policy at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group that estimates there have been more than 50 million abortions performed between 1973 and 2011, decried the text of the bill in a statement.
“It's outrageously offensive to callously use the memory of the men, women, and children who lost their lives in the [H]olocaust and other genocides to argue against women's right to self-determination,” Ms Smith told CBS News in an email.
She continued: “The anti-abortion movement relies on hyperbole, ad hominem attacks, and medically inaccurate language to manipulate the emotions of the public.”
Jake Hyman, a spokesperson with the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate Jewish group, said that comparing abortion to the Holocaust breaks boundaries on decency.
“It belittles the memory of six million Jews and millions of others who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis and misappropriates a profoundly tragic historical event for political purposes,” he said.
Alabama is one of several states across the US seek to introduce new legislation to impose restrictions on the abortion.
Last week, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a heartbeat abortion bill into law, giving the state the power to sentence women to life in prison if they terminate their pregnancies after six weeks.
Senators in Missouri are set to consider one of the country’s most restrictive abortion bans this week, which would effectively outlaw almost all abortions past eight weeks.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s Republican-led legislature is set to vote on whether to outlaw a common second-trimester abortion procedure.