Image Source: CTV News
By Chrystianna Konidis| @ckonidis
Last Wednesday, May 15, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the most extreme abortion bill in US history.
If it goes into effect, it would ban abortion at every stage of pregnancy and make it a felony crime for medical providers to perform the procedure.
Doctors who perform the procedure could face up to 99 years in jail.
Image Source: Governor Kay Ivey’s Twitter @GovernorKayIvey
The new state law will now ban abortions except in extreme cases with “serious health risks” to the mother. There are absolutely no exceptions for incest or rape cases.
This means that if a 12-year-old child is taken advantage of by a family member, is raped and falls pregnant, she must carry her unborn child to term and give birth.
This means that if a woman falls pregnant and then finds out during a check-up that her child will be born with serious life-altering medical conditions, or may not survive the full term of pregnancy, the mother must carry her unborn child to term and give birth.
This means that if a woman living below the poverty line that cannot afford to raise a child falls pregnant, she must carry her unborn child to term and give birth.
This means that if a woman is sexually assaulted, raped and falls pregnant, she must carry her unborn child to term and give birth.
This means that if a mother of five accidentally falls pregnant but has decided that she does not want any more children, she too, must carry her unborn child to term and give birth.
If this does not hit home for you, your sister, wife, mother or daughter then perhaps Democratic state Senator Bobby Singleton’s message will.
View this post on Instagram
“You just said to my daughter, you don't matter. You don't matter in the state of Alabama," said Democratic state Senator Bobby Singleton, laying out his opposition to a bill that would become restrictive abortion law in the country. The legislation amounts to a near-total abortion ban on abortions, with no exemptions for victims of rape or incest. On Tuesday night, the state's Republican-led Senate voted 25-6 to pass the bill, which now awaits the governor's signature.
Image Source: CNN’s Instagram @cnn
Obviously, everyone is entitled to their own opinions on controversial issues such as abortion and reproduction.
And this also means that not all women necessarily agree with abortion either.
This is perfectly okay.
However, it should surely ring alarm bells that this Alabama abortion law was passed by 25 white male Republican senators, effectively taking away the reproductive rights of women, out of their hands.
The injustice of this spread across social media like wildfire, and celebrities such as Grammy award-winning singer Rihanna and actress Reese Witherspoon protested in anger too.
Image Source: Rihanna’s Instagram @badgalriri
Image Source: Reese Witherspoon’s Twitter @ReeseW
When evaluating what this new legislation means for women in Alabama, it is important to remember that abortions will soon be illegal to perform.
However, just like the world’s booming illegal drug trade, although abortions will be classified as illegal, it will not prevent the procedure being performed through black-markets or by an individual’s own means.
According to the World Health Organisation, women and adolescents with unwanted pregnancies often resort to unsafe abortions when they cannot access safe abortions.
The health risks of unsafe abortions can result in some women experiencing life-threatening complications or dying from the procedure.
What is confusing about this legislation is that statistically, one in four women in the United States will have an abortion by age 45.
If almost a quarter of US women require access to an abortion during their active reproductive lives – what will the effects of new restrictions be on their need for safe abortion access?
The rising wave of abortion restrictions in America, including the recent introduction of “heartbeat” bills in four other states, intend to reshape women’s access to the procedure, even if it risks their health and safety.
In Australia, abortion is legally allowed in all states and territories under certain circumstances and time frames, and when done by a registered doctor.
If a woman has been pregnant for any longer than 14 weeks and wishes to have an abortion, her ability to receive the service can be more restrictive as each state and territory governs its own laws.
These restrictions include requiring the opinion of two doctors to decide whether or not to terminate the pregnancy after a certain amount of time in Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory, or being a resident of South Australia for at least two months before you are allowed access to an abortion.
No matter where you live, women should be protected in making their own healthcare decisions, especially in cases of medical illness, rape, or dangerous living conditions.
The Alabama Human Life Protection Act will not affect the men who voted for it, and it will well and truly protect the unborn – but where is the Act that protects women?