On Monday, a day before Alabama lawmakers were scheduled to vote on a bill that would all but ban abortion in the state, Republican Del Marsh, president of the state senate, asked a group of young mothers - toddlers bouncing on their laps - what they want the Legislature to do.
"How do y'all feel about banning abortion, even in cases of rape and incest?" he asked the women, who gathered at tables outside a Southern Girl Coffee truck here, on the edge of Talladega National Forest, about 100 miles from Montgomery.
"I'm praying for y'all, and I wouldn't want your job," sighed Lauren Holland, 32, her 2-year-old daughter climbing on her chest. She said she would have the baby if she were raped, but making that the law? "That there is real hard for women. I'm a Christian. One-hundred percent pro-life. But I don't think I want that in the law."
Marsh asked the women to keep praying for him as he navigates a contentious fight that could put Alabama on the leading edge of the anti-abortion push to get a state law in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He, like many other Republicans here, has long been against abortion and wants the court to overturn Roe v. Wade - and he embraces the strategy of a bill that will force the issue. But he also long has been accepting of three exceptions to bans on abortion: cases that involve rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.