Alabama Senate backtracks, delaying abortion vote

The Alabama state Senate changed course on Thursday after being poised to vote on a controversial abortion bill, moving to postpone a vote on the legislation until next week.

Lawmakers earlier Thursday had prepared to vote on legislation that would criminalize almost all abortions and make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion in the state. 

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But, according to The Associated Press, Alabama lawmakers decided to table the vote on a proposed abortion ban after a dispute erupted in the state Senate when some Republicans removed exceptions for rape and incest from the bill. Debate on the bill has been delayed until next week, according to the AP.

Video of the Alabama Senate floor shared by local ABC reporter Lauren Walsh showed apparent confusion among state lawmakers over votes on tabling the bill itself or on the amendments with abortion exceptions.

Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R) suggested lawmakers go home for the weekend and resume debate Tuesday, the AP reported.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted to add exceptions for rape and incest to the bill, which is one of the strictest pieces of abortion legislation in the country.

On Thursday, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R) struck down those amendments, according to the Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman. Lyman reported that lawmakers will try to reapply those exceptions.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has not commented on the legislation as it moves through the state House and Senate.

Advocates say they hope the bill will eventually provide the foundation for a Supreme Court challenge of Roe v. Wade.

Sixteen states have passed or are currently considering bans on abortion after a doctor can detect what they call "a fetal heartbeat," usually about six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. 

Four states have approved the so-called heartbeat abortion bans.

Updated at 12:18 p.m.