Earlier this year, on May 15th, Alabama’s governor signed the most aggressive anti-abortion law in recent American history. If enacted, the bill would permit abortions only if the mother’s life is at risk or if the foetus cannot survive but not in cases of rape or incest.
Abortion is going to be a criminal offence.
The law, of course, is already facing massive outrage for some apparent reasons. Alabama is not the only state to have this law. A growing number of countries have moved to significantly controlled access to abortion after a series of pro-conservative appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.
What is the ‘most aggressive’ bill about
Several states including Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio and Georgia have pursued “heartbeat” bills which states that: the legislation would ban abortion as soon as a physician can detect a fetal heartbeat. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the country’s most restricting abortion law, specially written to reach till the highest court.
- The Alabama bill criminalises ‘abortions at every stage of pregnancy’.
- There is special allowance for cases when the mother’s life is at risk, but there is not an exclusion for rape and incest.
- Senator Clyde Chambliss, a promoter of the bill, shielding lack of exclusions for the rape and incest, according to the sources said, “When God creates the wonder of life inside a woman’s womb, it is not our place as human beings to smother that life.”
- Doctors who do abortions will be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison. For trying to preform one, doctors could get a minimum of 10 years.
- There is not a single official boycott proposed, in response to the law. However, production studios and filmmakers had previously called for one in Georgia, which has a thriving film industry, over its six-week abortion ban.
- In the latest developments to this report, both Missouri’s Republican-led House and Senate passed a bill that would ban abortions at eight weeks. The law still needs to get a final stamp by the governor, who has signalled his support.
About 90% of counties in the US do not have an abortion provider, according to research, and experts and abortion rights advocates emphasise that restrictive laws disproportionately cripple lower-income communities.
The ‘Bigger’ Picture
Alabama’s recent law, which is currently being defied in court by the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, has attracted national and international attention. However, state lawmakers have been dodging the access to reproductive care since Republicans won a legislative supermajority in 2010.
One thing that we need to notice here precisely is that every other day a new bill is presented in the lower courts. It may or may not be applied, but once it becomes big enough to reach the highest court, some concrete decision is announced. The abortion law was never as big as it is this time. Couldn’t the massiveness of the law be a conspiracy to intentionally put it in front of the higher courts because there sits the most conservative panel of newly appointed judges? Once the bill is even thought-out in the Supreme Court, the most significant possibility is that it gets implemented forever.
Here the fight is not just against the law, this is about gender inequality.
The fight is about not having fundamental rights about someone’s own body.
“This has been a long time coming. No one is surprised. It’s about controlling women’s bodies and sexual agency,” said Kari Crowe, co-director at the group POWER (People Organizing for Women’s Empowerment & Rights) House, which works with the Montgomery Area Reproductive Coalition. “We sue the state every year.”
Talking about abortions, let’s talk about men
There exist “pro-choice” men and “pro-life” women, and it is agreed upon that the Alabama governor who signed the abortion bill is female. But abortion in this country remains, plainly, a gender issue.
Anti-abortion laws exist even decades after the outrage against it because men have a significant share in power and women do get pregnant. If men were to bear a child, one could very reasonably expect that this law would have long ago taken its proper place in legal history along other examples of particular settled law.
Deciding to have or not to have an abortion is a terrible, gut-wrenching choice. Absolutely nobody would like to go with this option while planning a family. That said, why does no one talk about the fathers in this equation?
Why do only women have to bear the possibility of prison sentences? Unless and until the other partner in this story is recognised as well as treated equally, how could anyone dare to enact laws on either of them, concerning such a personal matter?
For biological reasons, it is always the woman who gets pregnant and bears the child, but she didn’t reach till that pregnancy alone.
It takes two people to occur an unwanted pregnancy. That’s why we need to talk about men when we talk about abortion. If abortions are a criminal offence, so should be the act of ghosting a woman after getting her pregnant.
Nobody has the right to put individuals through such trauma.
How flawed is the law
According to the law, if a doctor performs an abortion in Alabama, they would be sentenced to 99 years in prison. However, the same lawbook states that if a man rapes an unconscious girl, he would be in jail for six months!
These facts explain a lot about the judicial bodies and how far they could think of, before amending a law.
For women, there is a stigma about having abortions, but there’s also a stigma about them having sex as a teen, before marriage or outside of marriage. It is mainly because of such stigmas that a woman decides to abort and wonder, how irrational it is to take away the rights of determining what to do with their bodies.
Being a state which has the worst health outcomes for women in the nation, as dangerous as the highest rate of cervical cancer, Alabama is putting women’s lives at an even higher risk.
So, what happens if the law becomes concrete?
Abortion won’t disappear.
Research shows that countries where abortion is illegal, have higher rates of abortion than in the places where it’s legal. These figures are primarily a function of unwanted pregnancies. Nearly half of all pregnancies here are unintended, of which four out of 10 ends in abortion.
With these new abortion boundaries, they are pushing women to carry dangerous, traumatic or otherwise severe pregnancies, only to face an increased risk of dying during childbirth or soon after.