When the U.S. Supreme Court decided on the constitutionality of abortion rights with Roe v. Wade in 1973, many voiced their opposition to it and fought to repeal the precedent this decision set. A later Supreme Court case in 1992 by the name of Planned Parenthood v. Casey reinforced Roe v. Wade, albeit with some restrictions that have now allowed states to implement restrictions during the third trimester of pregnancy, and implementing an “undue burden” standard that prohibits laws that produce obstacles for aborting a nonviable fetus.
On May 14, the state of Alabama passed new abortion laws that outlawed the use of abortion at any stage of the pregnancy. A “serious health risk” is the only exception allowed under the law. It was passed in the Alabama Senate in a 25-6 vote and signed on May 15 by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. The bill equates performing an abortion as a Class A felony, the same classification as rape and murder, and carries a sentence of 10 to 99 years for a doctor who performs a banned abortion. The new law is slated to take effect in Alabama in November.
Many articles have already been written on the constitutionality of the bill, and many people are predicting it will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The hope of the pro-life movement is that with Justice Anthony Kennedy now retired and Justice Brett Kavanaugh now taking his place, Roe v. Wade will be repealed. Anthony Kennedy was often the deciding vote for many abortion-related cases and he always sided with Roe v. Wade out of respect for the precedent it set.
Whether or not the Supreme Court repeals Roe v. Wade is not something this article is concerned with. Any court case related to the recent action in Alabama is much further down the line and would also have to be appealed after a decision in a circuit court. Right now, though, the most pressing issue the Alabama law sends is the statement toward women.
Whether you are for or against abortion, the method the Alabama legislators have gone about challenging it has resulted in the most disrespectful, inconsiderate law of its kind. The Alabama law offers no exceptions to victims of rape or incest. CBS News reported that when Alabama Republican state Sen. Clyde Chambliss was asked by a Democratic colleague why state law should prevent rape victims from ending an unwanted pregnancy, Chambliss responded that a woman in this case would still be able to get an abortion “until she knows she’s pregnant,” and that this comment produced “a mixture of groans and cackles from the chamber’s gallery.”
No matter what your position is on a hot button issue, tone deaf is never the correct choice when dealing with criticism. Yet, the Alabama legislators who supported this bill seem only to be concerned with getting the issue before the Supreme Court. In their rush to push something into case law, I think they have hurt the issue they stand for and, more importantly, hurt women with how little this bill accounts for them.
The legislators of Alabama should be ashamed with the treatment they have given half of their constituents. And, frankly, everyone should be outraged with the method they have chosen to prevent abortions.