FACT CHECK: Does The Alabama Abortion Bill Mandate Jail For False Rape Allegations?

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on the Facebook page The Pesky Liberals claimed that an abortion bill in Alabama “has an extra tacked on to the end of it wherein, if a woman reports being raped and they find the person she accused not guilty, SHE goes to jail, because it’s declared a false rape accusation.”

“Imagine how it would feel to have the ultimatum for reporting being raped, to become ‘either he winds up in jail, or you do.’ Make the choice before you talk to, uh, I guess, your teacher or parent about this,” the images continues.

Verdict: False

There is no such provision in the abortion bill passed by the Alabama legislature. A separate bill that would criminalize false rape allegations was introduced, but it would not legislate the binary outcome suggested in the meme – that either the accuser or the accused ends up in jail.

Fact Check:

The national debate over abortion recently turned to Alabama, where a bill banning abortion in nearly all cases was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday.

Sponsored by state Rep. Terri Collins, a synopsis of the bill says that it will “make abortion and attempted abortion felony offenses except in cases where abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”

In a tweet subsequently screenshot and shared on Facebook, one person claimed that the bill included “an extra tacked on to the end” that could lead to the imprisonment of women reporting rape cases. (The original tweet has since been deleted.)

There is, however, no such “extra” added to the abortion bill, which itself does not mandate jail time or criminal culpability to women receiving abortions. The felony charges only apply to doctors performing abortions, with the bill summary explaining that “a woman who receives an abortion will not be held criminally culpable or civilly liable for receiving the abortion.”

Rape is not mentioned in the text of the bill, and the majority leader’s office for the Alabama Senate told The Daily Caller in an email that the abortion bill “says absolutely nothing about rape.”

An amendment to allow exceptions for cases of rape or incest was proposed but not ultimately included in the final bill. The bill only allows abortions to protect the mother’s health or if lethal fetal anomalies are found.

An unrelated bill in the Alabama legislature does attempt to criminalize false rape allegations. Proposed the other week, it would classify a false report of rape, sodomy or sexual torture made “willfully, knowingly, and with malicious intent” as a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The accuser may be liable for the accused’s legal fees.

Nonetheless, the meme mischaracterizes the bill, claiming that “either he winds up in jail or you do.” An acquittal in a rape trial would not send the accuser to jail. Only if the accuser was prosecuted separately for filing a false report “with malicious intent” would the bill come into play.

“A not guilty verdict does not indicate false reporting and the accuser is not charged with false reporting,” state Rep. Dickie Drake, who introduced the bill, told the Caller in an email.

Filing a false police report is already illegal in Alabama, though it is currently a Class A misdemeanor.

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter

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