As you’re probably aware, over the past few months, several states – including Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Utah, and Arkansas – have passed state laws severely limiting abortion rights for women. These laws are among the most restrictive laws on the books in decades, and are seen as a road map for court cases to reach the Supreme Court to potentially challenge or overturn Roe v. Wade.
“This is a very serious situation,” Elizabeth Nash, legal expert from the Guttmacher Institute, tells The New York Times. “We are really facing a point at which the courts may make a shift on abortion rights.”
Serious indeed. And absolutely infuriating.
However, as awful as those recent laws are (and they truly are horrific), each of them stopped short of banning abortion altogether. That is, until the lovely state of Alabama passed a law effectively banning abortion last week – even among women who were victims of rape or incest. The law makes an exception for mothers whose lives are “seriously at risk,” but also criminalizes any doctor who performs an abortion.
Now let’s talk about this for a second, okay? Abortion is obviously a very charged issue, but proponents of outlawing it seem to act as though they come from a pure and worthy place, with the very best intentions. All lives are precious, they say, and it is not our place to end any life whatsoever, under any circumstances.
As Representative Terri Collins, the primary sponsor of Alabama’s new abortion law said, as the bill was brought to the Governor to be signed: “This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn, because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection.”
Alright, let’s take this at face value. Representative Collins sounds like someone who believes that all children deserve the utmost care. Although we can debate some other time about abortion and women’s rights and whether babies born to impoverished or ill or dead mothers are being offered all that “love and protection,” I’m going to take her at her word.
She and her anti-choice colleagues supposedly love children, and want to do everything in your power to keep them well and safe. Right?
It’s odd, though, because according to Newsweek, during the same period Representative Collins and her colleagues were trying to pass Alabama’s abortion ban, they also struck down several proposed laws that would provide care for mothers who would soon be denied abortions in their state – you know, protections that would make it possible for these mothers to raise their babies with “love and protection.”
As Newsweek explained, while the state’s legislature was working on the abortion bill, State Senator Vivian Davis offered an amendment proposing Medicaid expansion, which would provide extra medical funding to low-income moms and their babies and young children.
But apparently, no one gave a shit about that. Senator Davis’ amendments were struck down. The same went for an amendment proposed by State Senator Linda Coleman-Madison that would have offered free state prenatal/medical care for moms who were no longer able to get abortions.
Can you guess what happened with that? Yep, it was struck down too, because we know how much Alabama lawmakers care about babies and children.
The thing is, it’s not just about those amendments. In an infuriating, but oh-so-predictable twist, it turns out that Alabama’s anti-choice lawmakers give approximately zero shits about any of the women, babies, and children residing in their state.
– Alabama’s poverty rate has risen exponentially in the past 20 years, making Alabama the fifth most impoverished state in America for children.
– More than a quarter of Alabama’s children live in poverty, 30% under five years old.
– Child food insecurity exceeds the national average, and Alabama is the sixth poorest state in America.
– Families in Alabama struggle to afford childcare, as childcare costs 28% of the state’s average rent; single moms in Alabama are forced to spend 29% of their salaries on childcare.
– Alabama has the second highest infant mortality rate in America, has consistently rejected Medicaid expansion, and only half its counties have working obstetricians.
Hmm … could it be that Alabama doesn’t really love pregnant moms and their babies as much as they say they do?
It’s appalling. Absolutely appalling. And it points to something really important here: The anti-choice movement isn’t really about saving little tiny clumps of cells that might grow into a baby one day. It’s not about the sanctity of human life. It never was and never will be.
It’s about controlling women. Period. And it’s absolutely unacceptable.
I am not really sure what the answer is. Our country is deeply divided. There is a culture war at play that seems to be spiraling out of control. The thing is, I think that most of us actually do want what is right. After all, 7 out of 10 Americans support Roe. v. Wade. Most of the extreme anti-abortion proponents do not speak for the majority of us.
That’s why we need to make our voices heard. We will not go back to the days of back alley abortions, coat hangers, and women dying. Nope. Never.
We will support women’s health, children’s health, evidence-based medicine – and value human life by supporting common sense laws that actually take into consideration the well-being of women, children, and families everywhere. Amen.