If you have been following the news recently, you’ve probably heard about Alabama’s new abortion ban. However, the fight against the right to bodily autonomy in this state is not a new development. Abortion has been in a critical state in Alabama for an extremely long time.
Last November, an Alabama state constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 2, “recognized and supported the sanctity of unborn life”. This amendment is set to go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned, outlawing abortion in the state of Alabama without exceptions. Abortion seekers in Alabama already have to navigate several logistical and financial barriers, including a 48-hour waiting period, state-mandated counseling, lack of insurance coverage, and only having three abortion clinics in the state.
Following the passage of Amendment 2, HB 314 passed in May 2019. This bill created a nationwide uproar of both criticism and support. This bill “would make abortion and attempted abortion felony offenses except in cases where abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother”. This bill holds no exceptions for victims of sexual abuse, rape or incest.
HB 314 also proposes some harmful and inaccurate comparisons. The bill compares abortion rates to the deaths inflicted by the Holocaust, Stalin’s regime and the Rwandan genocide. Abortion is a personal decision protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States’ 14th Amendment. Alabama’s legislature is comparing an act of exercising one’s bodily autonomy to vicious genocides of innocent people. These acts are not the same. This rhetoric only furthers an outright disrespect of pregnant people’s right to make decisions that are best for their lives and blatantly disregards the severity of deaths inflicted through mass genocides.
Both Amendment 2 and HB 314 showcase that Alabama is fighting to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would completely ban abortion throughout the state. That outcome would negatively impact millions of people throughout Alabama. Safe and legal abortion will become outlawed, physicians will leave Alabama in fear of being prosecuted for providing a standard medical procedure, and people will die without access to necessary healthcare. Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures one can receive, but this law will force pregnant people to turn to methods other than medical professionals for an abortion. No law, legislation or bill is going to stop abortions from occurring; HB 314 will only succeed in putting more Alabamians in danger.
HB 314 will also force pregnant victims of abuse to carry their child to full term, despite the constant trauma that this perpetuates. Not all pregnant people get to choose the circumstances that led to their pregnancy. Sexual assault is not something that people choose to happen to them. This is a tragic and traumatic experience. Alabama anti-abortion lawmakers want to force victims of these crimes to carry a pregnancy to term that is a constant reminder of the trauma they endured. Pregnant people deserve the right to make their own decisions regarding their future, and HB 314 limits them from doing so.
Do not be fooled: this legislation is not about the right to life. This legislation is about the control of pregnant people’s bodies and decisions. The right to abortion is guaranteed by the “right to privacy” in the 14th Amendment, but Alabama wants to overwrite this for the sake of religious and moral values. People have differing opinions on abortion and personhood, but certain people’s opinions shouldn’t outweigh others. Leaving abortion safe and accessible does not force anyone to receive the procedure. However, banning abortion leaves pregnant people in a place where they are not able to make a choice concerning their own body and future.
The United States is supposed to be the land of the free, but Alabama is directly targeting its inhabitants’ right to freedom. The choice to have an abortion should be left only to the pregnant person, who knows what is best for own their lives and families. This is not an issue that should be regulated by the government, be it state or federal. Bodily autonomy means the right to control one’s own body. So, why is it that Alabama’s legislators are dictating what you can do with yours?