Alabama’s Abortion Law is About Punishing Women, Not Doctors.
They’re after women, not the physicians.
Welcome to The Handmaid’s Tale.
Alabama has now joined the ranks of Georgia and Ohio, surpassing even their draconian laws with legislation that states doctors who perform an abortion will be punished with up to 99 years in prison. Even an attempt to aid someone with an abortion will be punished with a ten year sentence.
Regardless of the short term outcomes, the white men who wrote these laws got their wish. Pro choice advocacy groups have already said they plan on challenging this law and others like it in the courts, and this is exactly what the GOP wants. If they get their way, this law will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court. With a conservative majority on the bench, it isn’t difficult to identify how the underlying intention of this bill is to overturn our constitutional rights to our own bodies.
Let’s be clear. This has nothing to do with punishing doctors, but it has everything to do with punishing the people who they will no longer be able to help.
We cannot talk about these abortion laws without discussing them in the context of the communities that they will affect the most. I find it hard to believe that the rich, white women will have any trouble getting their abortions anyways. They will be able to travel out of state, or pay a doctor a handsome sum of money under the table to get what they want. Now of course, they shouldn’t have to do that, but we cannot forget the vast majority of Alabamians who won’t even have that option available to them. Citing a recent report on poverty in Alabama, AL.com says:
The poverty rate for Hispanic or Latino Alabamians is highest, at nearly 34 percent, compared with 31 percent for blacks and 14 percent for whites. Alabama’s median household income of $44,833 is nearly $11,000 less than the national median of $55,775. The difference grows starker when comparing black and white households, however. According to the report, white Alabamians earn $50,402 a year on average, compared with black Alabamians’ average of $29,180.
It is inevitably the poor and minority communities who will be paying the price not the doctors, and I would argue that was the intended consequence. I’m not under the impression that the lawmakers in Alabama have no idea the desperate lengths a woman will go to to end a pregnancy that she does not want and cannot afford. But the ugly reality is that they simply do not care, and they never will. They are actively looking for anyone who seeks an abortion to be denied not only their own bodily autonomy, but their dignity as well.
This law will not stop anyone with a vagina in low income and minority communities from seeking an abortion. It will simply guarantee they don’t have access to a safe, clean, low risk procedure. I would argue that this horrifying risk women will now face is not just collateral damage in their efforts, but the ultimate intent of the legislation.
It’s frightening to consider what laws like this could potentially lead to down the line as well.
Thankfully, there is no language in Alabama’s legislation that would charge the woman for getting an abortion, but the GOP has been continuously pushing their luck on this issue among others for decades. Who’s to say that if their brazenness in this instance is rewarded, that they won’t try to extend it even further? If we fail to consider the very real possibility that it will be the women themselves sitting behind bars in the future, than we are grossly underestimating the clear threat lying just ahead of us.
The fight to undermine the rights of anyone with a vagina has arguably escalated into a declaration of war on a number of fronts. It is both a moral and civic duty to protect the citizens of Alabama from these egregious infringements on their basic human rights. We cannot allow the GOP to step in to this territory. We cannot allow men who have no idea what goes on inside a woman’s body to dictate what they’re allowed to do with it.