What is most disturbing about the current wave of anti-abortion legislation are the proposed punishments for having an abortion. The idea of imprisoning women, or even putting them in the electric chair, as a failed Texas bill would have allowed, for having an abortion is a morally repugnant and authoritarian position to take. It is somehow unironic that the “Pro-Life” movement diminishes the value of human life by equating the importance of preserving a Zygote, to the importance of a life of a fully grown, conscience human. On Wednesday, May 15, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill banning almost all abortions, into law, making the state’s abortion restrictions the strictest in the nation. The law makes no exceptions for cases of rape and incest, and it includes a penalty of 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions. Under a new highly restrictive Ohio law, a pregnant 11 year old child who was raped a 26 year old man multiple times, would be unable to receive an abortion. Thankfully the law will only take affect in July, so the girl will be able to seek help.
It is an understatement to say that the new bills being proposed and passed across conservative states are a step back. Today’s pro-life movement is driven by much less compassionate, and more punitive intentions than earlier pro-life movements. Early supporters of the pro-life movement were often politically liberal Catholics who viewed abortion as morally apprehensive, but also supported social spending and family programs designed to help families have healthy lives. Today’s pro-life movement, which is firmly aligned with the Republican party, has held a longstanding opposition to such social spending, on the grounds that it is socialistic and incentivizes laziness. Before Ronald Reagan became president, he signed the California bill legalizing abortion in the state, later reversed his position, and supported of the proposed “Human life” amendment to the constitution which would make the legalization of abortion illegal nationwide. Reagan’s lack of respect for women, especially poor women is shown in his coining of the phrase “welfare queens,” who are supposedly living it up on the backs of the nation’s taxpayers. Black and poor women will be most disproportionately affected by Alabama’s abortion ban, as these groups have less resources to seek care from out of the state. The version of Christianity embraced by today’s America right-wing hardly if at all take into account the gospel’s message of caring for the poor and sick, and instead, views poverty as a result of irresponsibility and unworthiness. I find it completely unsurprising Alabama ranks second to last in education, despite their stated commitment to the well-being of children. If one truly believes women who become pregnant, even in cases of rape and coercion, should bear their pregnancies to term, their line of thinking falls that which places being raped as the fault of the victim. This is the real reason why these bills make no exceptions for cases of rape and incest. The twisted conception of honor which denies the right of women to control their own bodies, ultimately denies the legitimacy of a women’s right to determine the path of her own life.
What’s more, is that abortion ban is falsely presented as a protection for women’s health, but the 25 Alabama senators who voted to criminalize abortion in their state are all white, Republican men. Many pro-life supporters peddle the false notion that women who receive abortions display sever psychological problems from the guilt they face afterwards. As Eric Zorn writes in the Chicago Tribune, “(Pro-Choice) Opponents’ most recent ploy has been to put forth the grotesque lie, amplified by our grotesquely dishonest president, that abortion-rights logic allows for post-birth infanticide at the parents’ whim. It’s the most insincere manifestation yet of arguments rooted in the false notion that women with healthy babies are waddling into clinics during their third trimester to end their inconvenient pregnancies.”
I have absolute respect anyone who chooses not to have an abortion. I respect anyone who chooses to have an abortion. It is a personal choice, not for anyone to make, especially not the government.