Alabama state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D) on Tuesday used her time on the state’s Senate floor to eviscerate her Republican colleague for supporting a near-total ban on abortion, including for victims of rape and incest.
Ahead of a vote on HB 314, the country’s strictest abortion bill to date, Figures and her fellow Democrats debated its constitutionality and morality with state Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R), one of the bill’s sponsors.
“Do you know what it’s like to be raped?” Figures asked Chambliss.
“No, ma’am,” he replied. “I don’t.”
“Do you know what it’s like to have a relative commit incest on you?” Figures asked. Chambliss responded that he didn’t.
The bill, which passed in the Alabama Senate 25 to 6 on Tuesday, makes performing an abortion a felony offense. The only exception in the legislation is in cases where the life of the pregnant woman is at risk.
Before the vote, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected an amendment that would have allowed abortions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest.
“To take that choice away from that person who has such a traumatic act committed against them,” Figures told Chambliss, “to have to bring that child into this world, and be reminded of that every single day ― some people can do that ... but some can’t. But why would you not want a woman to at least have that exception for such a horrific act?”
Chambliss responded, “Because I believe that when that unborn child becomes a person, and we need legal guidance on when that is ―”
Figures interrupted to let him know that’s “not your business.”
“You don’t have to raise that child,” she said. “You don’t have to carry that child, you don’t have to provide for that child, you don’t have to do anything for that child ― but yet you want to make that decision for that woman that that’s what she has to do.”
Why you all want to control our bodies, I will never ever know. Alabama state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D)
Figures, one of just four women in the Alabama Senate, told her Republican counterpart that there isn’t a single law in the country that decides “what a man can or cannot do with his body.” She also acknowledged she isn’t sure whether she would get an abortion herself, but said she believes it should up to women to make their own decision.
“I will have to be honest with you: I praise God every day that I was never, ever put in that situation to make that choice,” Figures said. “I don’t know what choice I would have made. I really don’t. And that is why I so firmly believe that it should be a woman’s choice, that a woman knows what she’s up against, she knows what she has to do ― whether she can or cannot provide for that child.”
“You are playing God, in my opinion, because you’ve already decided what needs to be done,” she added. “You all don’t rule the world. I mean, you may think you do, but you don’t.”
Figures proposed three amendments to the bill, all of which her Republican colleagues rejected. The first amendment was to have lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill pay the state’s attorney’s fees, the second would expand Medicaid eligibility, and the third would make a man who has a vasectomy guilty of a class A felony.
“In all of these abortion bills that you all have passed through the years taking away a woman’s choice ... was there ever anything in there saying what would happen to the man who impregnated her?” Figures asked on the Alabama Senate floor. “Why you all want to control our bodies, I will never, ever know.”
The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk. If she signs it into law, it would become effective within six months.
Watch Figures’ full remarks on the Senate floor below. They start around the 55-minute mark.