A day after the Alabama House of Representatives passed what could become the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country, state Rep. John Rogers, a Democrat, took to the House floor to voice his support for a woman’s right to choose.
But the perplexing words he used have drawn intense pushback from conservatives, who are orchestrating a nationwide push in state houses this legislative session to restrict abortion access and, they hope, force the Supreme Court to reevaluate Roe v. Wade.
Rogers argued Wednesday that “it ought to be a woman’s choice” about terminating a pregnancy, an autonomy that would disappear entirely if the majority-Republican Alabama Senate passes the “Human Life Protection Act” — a bill that would criminalize abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
“I’m not about to be the male tell a woman what to do with her body,” he said, repeating a common refrain among abortion-rights advocates. “She has a right to make that decision herself."
Then his argument took a turn.
“Some kids are unwanted, so you kill them now or kill them later,” he said. “You bring them into the world unwanted, unloved, then you send them to the electric chair. So you kill them now or you kill them later. But the bottom line is that I think we shouldn’t be making this decision.”
In a statement, Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R) called Rogers’s remarks “chilling.”
“‘Kill them now, or you kill them later’?" he said. “His comments should be condemned at the state and national level.”
Other conservatives have also criticized Rogers’s comments.
“This is stomach curling,” Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, wrote on Twitter, calling on Democratic presidential candidates to respond to Rogers’s words.
Republican state Rep. Bradley Byrne, who is challenging Democrat Doug Jones for his U.S. Senate seat, used Rogers’s words to highlight Jones’s stance on abortion.
“Alabama deserves a 100% pro-life voice representing us in the US Senate,” Byrne wrote on Twitter.
Rogers did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. His contact page on the state legislature website contains an invalid email address, and his voice mail inbox was full. But in a Thursday interview with local NBC affiliate WVTM-TV, Rogers said Trump Jr. should’ve been aborted himself.
He went on to call the president’s son “retarded” and “crazy.”
“Him being born, that’s proof right there ... that’s a very, very good defense for abortion right there,” he said, adding, “I knew it’s something wrong with that boy, I can look at him and tell something’s wrong for him.”
The bill in question would make it a felony for a doctor to perform abortion — unless the woman’s health is at risk. It does not include an exemption for women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
“This bill is focused on that baby that’s in the womb that is a person,” state Rep. Terri Collins (R) of Decatur, Ala., told NPR. “That baby, I believe, would choose life.”
Similar bills have swept state houses nationwide this legislative session, though none as restrictive as Alabama’s have passed. A handful of states have passed so-called fetal heartbeat bills, which make it illegal for doctors to perform abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat — which can happen as early as six weeks, before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
The flood of antiabortion legislation has been a slow-building strategy for about a decade, one that has gained greater traction this year now that Trump has appointed two conservative judges to the Supreme Court.
“The shift in the Supreme Court opened these flood gates,” Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues director for the Guttmacher Institute, told The Post last month. “What we’re seeing now is legislators wanting to pass an extreme abortion ban because they’re aiming at overturning Roe v. Wade.”