Alabama’s Abortion Bill

Has Roe v Wade not taught us anything?

It has always been best to avoid the mixing of politics and ethics. Since 1967, the UK has done a tremendous job at keeping the two separate. However, the same cannot be said for the United States – ethics has lost out on this one unfortunately…

It does not take a feminist nor a human rights warrior to understand the simple concept of bodily autonomy. Every human being – even a woman (shock) – is born with the right to do whatever they want with their body. Alabama state law however, seems to think otherwise.

15th May 2019: The Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, signed the new abortion bill.

So, what does the bill entail?

Abortion will be banned. This is subject to one exception: if the mother’s life is at risk.

There are plenty of difficulties with this. Firstly, the status of the unborn has not been academically decided yet. Academics are still split as to whether an unborn foetus should be considered a ‘living’ human being or not. However, one thing that is certain is that the bill is prioritising the rights of an undetermined life form over the life of a born, living and breathing human being.

Pro-life campaigners often use the ‘What If’ argument. What if your foetus was to find the cure for cancer? What if your foetus is to become the President of America one day? As you can see, the ‘What If‘ argument is usually paired with hyperbolic and near-impossible scenarios. Most people do not live up to these standards. If we applied the ‘What If‘ argument to a more common and mundane example, it would not have the same effect. After all, I have yet to live the day when I hear someone say, ‘what if your foetus was to become a generally likeable person who drives a 12 plate Polo and works a zero-hour contract at Tesco?’ Even I wouldn’t abort that foetus.

Fortunately, science does not concern itself with hypothetical prophecies. Science concerns itself with facts. Yet for argument’s sake, if we had to give the ‘What If‘ argument some credibility, then allow me to turn the tables. What if your foetus was to become a murderer? What if your foetus was to cause World War III? The possibilities here are endless.

Many people are misled into thinking that the core issue behind the abortion debate is about who is right and who is wrong. This is not the case. If you are pro-life, that is fine. If you are a pro-choice supporter, that is also fine. The pivotal issue here is bodily autonomy. Being free to make decisions about your own body does not give you the authority to make decisions about another living and breathing person’s body…especially if you are part of a 25-strong male board of politicians making decisions about women’s reproductive rights.

Any doctor performing an abortion may be punished with life in prison.

I should probably remind you that Alabama’s abortion bill does not allow exceptions for rape or incest.

A rapist can only get a maximum sentence of 20 years. A doctor who performs an abortion in the patient’s best interest gets a life sentence. Let that sink in for a minute…

What effect will this have on the future?

Quite ironically, the bill will never achieve its aim – to stop abortions. Banning abortions will not stop abortions. The only difference now is that women will have no choice but to have abortions in unsafe places using unsafe methods.

For some reason, the Alabama bill has gained a lot more coverage on the UK news than other recent abortion bills. Last month, the Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine signed a bill stating that once a fatal heartbeat can be detected (around the 6 weeks marks), a woman cannot abort the foetus. A similar law has recently been approved in the state of Georgia. It is safe to say that Alabama is one of the many fallen dominoes in the line of states legislating against women’s rights.

Who would’ve thought that The Handmaid’s Tale would soon be turning into a reality…

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