Alabama’s anti-abortion governor has just signed into law a ban on abortion, with the intent to set the stage for a showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court. Women’s reproductive rights in the United States are in grave peril.
While Alabama’s blatantly unconstitutional law will likely end up going nowhere legally, it’s part of an organized campaign to pass as many state restrictions against abortion as possible. Emboldened by the addition of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the Religious Right’s avowed goal in flooding the court system with anti-abortion legislation is to get a case before the Supreme Court to eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, the court’s landmark pro-choice 1973 decision.
The draconian Alabama law, allowing an exception only if there is a “serious health risk” to the woman, makes it a class A felony for a physician to perform an abortion in Alabama, punishable by up to 99 years in prison. The Senate on Tuesday night passed the bill by a 25-6 vote, while killing an amendment to permit abortion in cases of rape or incest. The law is expected to be immediately stayed during a court battle.
As news articles have pointed out, 25 of the 27 Republicans (two of whom did not vote) who dominate the 35-member Alabama Senate — all white men — voted in lockstep for the virtual blanket ban on abortion rights. Yet the law will disproportionately affect black and low-income women. The Senate contains only four women, with women overall representing only 15 percent of the Alabama Legislature, the sixth-lowest percentage in the union.
“You’ve got 27 men over on the other side ready to tell women what they can do with their bodies,” said Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton. “The state of Alabama ought to be ashamed of itself.”
State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures told her anti-abortion colleagues during the floor fight: “You don’t have to raise that child. You don’t have to carry that child. You don’t have to provide for that child. You don’t have to do anything for that child, but yet you want to make the decision for that woman.”
Figures deserves kudus for her spunk. After introducing amendment after amendment, such as to require the state to force legislators who voted for the bill to pay the state’s legal bills, she then introduced a tongue-in-cheek amendment to make it a crime for men to get vasectomies.
The religious motivation behind the legislation could not have been more clearly stated than what Alabama State Sen. Clyde Chambliss said: “When God creates that life, that miracle of life inside the woman’s womb, it’s not our place as humans to extinguish that life. That’s what I believe.” Proving the religious motivation of the ban was the signing statement made last night by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who said the law “stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious, that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
Chambliss and other anti-abortion legislators are free to believe as they like, but not to legislate their faith-based beliefs and force them upon unwilling others. Americans who value freedom, human rights, women’s rights and our secular Constitution must resist this religiously based war on reproductive rights.