The more I read this claim, the more and more messier I realize it is. The Tweet claims several things:
- There is a law in Alabama about false accusation of rape.
- That law states that if a person is found not guilty of rape, the accuser is sent to jail.
- The law was part of the anti-abortion bill passed in Alabama this past spring.
Only the first of these has any basis in fact; the others do not.
I assume that "abortion bill" refers to HB 314, passed this past spring. HB 314 does not even mention rape in the context of abortion (e.g. a rape victim seeking an abortion), let alone in this completely unrelated scenario. The terms "rape", "sexual assault", or related phrases make no appearance in the bill. The Associated Press wrote an article explaining this, if you don't want to scan through the legislation yourself.
However, as the AP notes, a state legislator did introduce HB 544, though it has not been passed. HB 544 does deal with the case of a false accusation of sexual assault or other sexual offenses. A provably false accusation of rape, sodomy, or sexual torture in the first degree would be a Class C felony; a provably false accusation a of lesser sexual offense would be Class A misdemeanor. The relevant section is:
Section 1. Section 13A-6-72 is added to the Code of Alabama 1975, to read as follows:
(a) A person commits the crime of making a false sexual allegation if:
(1) He or she willfully, knowingly, and with malicious intent, makes a false report of rape in the first degree, sodomy in the first degree, or sexual torture, and whose allegations are proven to be false.
(2) He or she willfully, knowingly, and with malicious intent, makes a false report of rape in the second degree, sodomy in the second degree, sexual misconduct, sexual abuse in the first degree, sexual abuse in the second degree, indecent exposure, enticing child to enter vehicle, house etc., for immoral purposes, sexual abuse of a child under 12, or foster parent engaging in a sex act, etc., with a foster child, and whose allegations are proven to be false.
(b) A person making a false sexual allegation may be liable to the person accused for all costs associated with his or her legal defense.
(c) Making a false sexual allegation pursuant to subdivision (1) of subsection (a) is a Class C felony.
(d) Making a false sexual allegation pursuant to subdivision (2) of subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor.
The above section requires the accusation to be made "with malicious intent"; that is, the accuser must be deliberately lying. Someone who genuinely believes that another person sexually assaulted them would not be found guilty under HB 544, regardless of whether the accused was found guilty or not guilty.
It's also worth noting that the Tweet implies that if the accused is found not guilty, the accuser would be automatically sent to jail, and that HB 544 makes no such provision. There's a gray area for some cases, where the accuse could not be proven guilty of rape beyond reasonable doubt, and where the accused could not be proven guilty of making a false accusation beyond reasonable doubt. Indeed, condemning the accuser based on a not guilty verdict in a rape trial would violate the principle of innocent until proven guilty (a human right), and the accuser would not enjoy the right to a trial if sent directly to jail based solely on the ruling of whether or not rape was committed (violating the Sixth Amendment).
That said, it's already a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama to make an intentionally false police report; see Alabama's Title 13. Presumably, going to the police and filing a formal accusation of sexual assault would be covered by this existing law. HB 544 would turn some allegations from Class A misdemeanors to Class C felonies.
As HB 544 has not been passed, the claim in the Tweet is false because the proposal was not tacked onto HB 314; moreover HB 544 has not yet been passed and would not do what the Tweet claims.