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Alabama abortion bill doesn’t jail women for rape allegations

May 17, 2019 GMT

CLAIM: Under the Alabama abortion bill, if an alleged rapist is found not guilty the accuser will go to jail because her allegation is declared false.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The controversial Alabama abortion bill that passed earlier this week does not address rape charges although the state’s legislature is considering a bill that would criminalize false rape allegations.

THE FACTS: Alabama lawmakers this week passed House Bill 314, the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which makes performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases. 

A post shared more than 26,000 times on Facebook claims the bill also stipulates: “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 accusation.”

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No such measure exists in the abortion bill. 

However, Alabama Rep. Dickie Drake, a Republican, did introduce House Bill 544 in May that would make it a felony for someone to falsely accuse another person of rape. Under the proposed bill, if a suspect was found not guilty in a rape case, a prosecutor would still need to prove a false allegation was made before an accuser faced possible criminal penalties, such as jail time.  

A hearing was held Wednesday for House Bill 544, which has not advanced out of committee, hours before Gov. Kay Ivey signed the new Alabama abortion law.

“The two are getting conflated,” Kathleen Connolly, a policy manager for the Alabama Coalition Against Rape, said of House Bills 544 and 314.

Connolly, who testified about the rape bill Wednesday, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview, that such a law could have “horrifying” unintended consequences. The Alabama Judiciary Committee is expected to consider the bill again next week, she added. 

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Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.