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Gov. Kay Ivey fields questions about an Alabama abortion bill during a press gaggle Wednesday at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.
Brad Harper, Montgomery Advertiser

Elected as Alabama’s second-ever female governor, Kay Ivey has a resume full of government experience in the southern state.

A former teacher and bank employee, Ivey previously served as director of government affairs and communications for the Alabama Commission on Higher Education in the 1980s and 1990s, the state’s treasurer from 2003 to 2011 and its lieutenant governor for 2011 to 2017.

Now 74 years old, Ivey signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law Wednesday, a near-total ban on the practice that’s sure to face legal challenges.

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Gov. Kay Ivey delivers the State of the State address inside the old house chambers at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Photo: Jake Crandall/ Advertiser)

“To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,” Ivey said in a statement.

An only child who’s been married twice but never had children of her own, the Republican has made known her position known on family planning topics like abortion, adoption by couples and birth control.

Abortion

After signing Alabama’s new restrictions on abortion in 2019, Ivey said in a statement that she disagreed with the Roe v. Wade decision when it was handed down back in 1973.

Prior to the bill’s signing Wednesday, Ivey was asked by reporters about victims of rape and incest being required to carry a baby to term. Georgia’s new abortion restriction carries an exception for those victims, but Alabama’s new law does not. Ivey told reporters “all life is precious.”

During her campaign for governor in 2018, she won the endorsement of several anti-abortion groups, saying in response to the Susan B. Anthony List’s letter of endorsement that she “will always defend unborn life, starting at conception, and advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves.”

Ivey believes the bill, like its sponsor Rep. Terri Collins., that the time is right for the Supreme Court to “revisit this important matter.”  She joined with Collins in 2015 when Ivey was lt. gov. in a statement calling for the immediate defunding of Planned Parenthood.

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Adoption and foster care

During Gov. Ivey’s first year as governor, Alabama reportedly set a record for the most amount of foster children who found a permanent home, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources. A total of 710 foster children were placed in permanent homes during fiscal year 2018. The prior year saw just 509 children be adopted. The previous record was 2009.

In November 2018, she signed a National Adoption Month proclamation, nothing children in foster care or in need of adoptive parents. The proclamation also went onto “herby encourage all Alabamians to support adoption and to attend of the many National Adoption Month events planned throughout the state.”  

Ivey previously signed a bill allowing faith-based agencies to refuse to place children with gay parents. She signed the bill a month after assuming the governorship after Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned following an Ethics Commission found the governor broke ethics and campaign and finance laws.

“I ultimately signed House Bill 24 because it ensures hundreds of children can continue to find forever homes through religiously-affiliated adoption agencies,” Ivey said in a statement. “This bill is not about discrimination, but instead protects the ability of religious agencies to place vulnerable children in a permanent home.”

From Camden to the State Capitol: Kay Ivey’s path to the governor’s office

Birth Control

The Alabama governor’s office released a plan to address the state’s infant mortality rate in June 2018. The plan calls to reduce the rate by at least 20 percent in three counties (Macon, Montgomery, and Russell) in the next five years. 

The plan includes a focus on more health care; screening for substance abuse, domestic violence and depression; breastfeeding promotion; and teaching parents how to place their babies for safer sleeping. 

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It also looked at the possibility of making Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) available after the delivery of a child. The form of birth control, which are items like intrauterine devices (IUDs), injections or implants, can be more cost-effective than condoms or other methods.

“These programs have been demonstrated to reduce the IMR in other states, including South Carolina, whose own IMR reduction program offers Alabama a model for successful interventions,” the report reads.

Nate Chute is a producer with the USA Today Network. Follow him on Twitter at @nchute.

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