On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, an abortion bill titled the Human Rights Prevention Act was passed by Alabama’s House of Representatives. The bill would make almost all abortions illegal and even charge doctors who perform abortions with at least 10 years in prison. The bill passed the House with 74 to 3 votes and will now be voted on by Alabama’s State Senate. If passed, this bill would bring injustice upon women’s bodies by withdrawing their right to control their own well being.
According to The Huffington Post, “The sponsor, Republican state Rep. Terri Collins, said the goal of the bill is to trigger a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that legalized abortion.” This move is part of a current trend in the South to push anti-abortion bills. Staci Fox, president of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, also stated in The Huffington Post that “we expected this vote to happen, and we are ready for a fight in the Senate… Today’s floor debate made it crystal clear what Alabama lawmakers think about women. It also revealed just how callous and flagrant they can be.” Fox’s statement hits close to home, as the injustices women face are being made known now more than ever. An extreme bill like this would push back progress. Randall Marshall, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama, stated, “These lawsuits are a part of a plan to overturn Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court. They know they will not win in federal, district, or appeals courts because these bills are flagrantly unconstitutional… However, if a state loses in lower courts, appeals to the Supreme Court and is denied review, then they will owe potentially hundreds of thousands of taxpayer money in attorney fees. None of these states including Alabama can afford to throw money away like that.” In reaction to the bill’s extremism, some of Alabama’s Democratic Representatives walked out in protest. It is clear there is tension over the Humans Rights Prevention Act.
Although the title of this bill makes it sound like a good decision for all, the Human Rights Prevention Act does not actually protect everyone. There are currently no exceptions for instances of rape and incest. This would make it not only illegal for a rape victim to seek an abortion, but would cost the doctor performing the operation jail time. I believe women should have rights over their own bodies. Like Staci Fox said, this bill shows representatives in Alabama truly think little of women and their right to their own body. Not creating exceptions for these cases is sickening, especially in a world where women are looked down on for being pregnant under 18 and/or without a partner. The stringency of this bill is evocative of The Handmaid’s Tale, a popular novel and TV series in which women are forced to bear children after rape. This is not a culture I condone. I urge both men and women to fight against this. I am a supporter of the pro-choice movement, but regardless of which position one supports, it is clear that new measures must be taken to care for both mothers and children. Perhaps abortions would not be so popular if we had the resources to take care of mothers and children living with their parents or in foster homes.
According to The Huffington Post, “Reproductive rights groups say it is already difficult to get an abortion in Alabama, which has only three abortion clinics. Women must receive counseling and then wait 48 hours before having the procedure. They are also required to undergo an ultrasound and must be given the option to view it.” The Human Rights Prevention Act would completely ban abortions, which many lawmakers believe is unconstitutional. The only exception would be in cases where the mother’s life is in extreme danger.
The government should respect women and their reproductive rights. Instead of limiting safe facilities where these operations can take place, we as a society should have healthy alternatives to abortions and resources in place that can support women and children during and after pregnancy. Many people say it takes a village to raise a child, and it is true. We cannot allow this type of legislation to ever pass, especially when women and children cannot rely on the government and community to be there for them, let alone have the support of a village.