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Alabama’s Abortion Ban: What’s Happening, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do

Alabama's Abortion Ban: What's Happening, Why It Matters, What You Can Do

Yesterday, Alabama signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the country — with no exceptions for rape or incest. We wanted to break down exactly what’s happening and how it could affect every woman’s future…

What’s happening in Alabama?

On Wednesday, May 15th, Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the country: a near-total ban on the procedure, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Under the legislation, doctors could face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion.

The law allows exceptions only “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus), and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.”

(When asked what would happen under the bill to a child who was a victim of incest and discovered she was pregnant, Republican Alabama state senator Clyde Chambliss, said that, while the young girl would have to carry and birth the baby, he hoped she could get mental help. “What I hope is, if we pass this bill, that all young ladies would be educated by their parents, their guardians that should a situation like this occur, you need to go get help — you need to do it immediately,” Chambliss said.)

Also, it’s important to note and spread the word: Abortion services are still safe, legal and available in Alabama right now. The bill will not take effect until at least six months after becoming law.

Is Alabama the only state where this is happening?

Alabama’s law is the most extreme, making no exception for rape and incest victims and criminalizing doctors who perform abortions, but other states have passed so-called “heartbeat bills” (banning abortion once a cardiac rhythm can be detected in an embryo — to be medically accurate, there is no actual heart yet — which usually happens around six weeks, an early stage when many women won’t even yet know they are pregnant), including Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia. Controversial restrictions are also being considered in states including Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, Arkansas, West Virginia, Missouri and Indiana. (Here is a breakdown of state-by-state restrictions.) Another big issue overall is access: because of regulations specifically targeting abortion clinics, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia now each have only one abortion clinic left statewide, making access especially difficult for the young, rural and poor.

Why is this happening now? What could it mean for the future?

Politicians who are supporting the bill actually have a larger overall goal in mind.

Conservative states are passing more extreme abortion legislation right now for one major reason: the ultimate goal is to get the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that recognized a constitutional right for a woman to end a pregnancy, and legalized abortion nationwide. For instance, if the Alabama anti-abortion bill is contested (the ACLU has already sworn to sue), then the case will likely rise up through the courts to the Supreme Court. With Trump’s appointments of conservative justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the court now has a conservative majority. So, anti-abortion advocates see this as the right time to pass bills that are likely to be challenged and end up in front of the Supreme Court.

These anti-abortion laws are being passed with the direct goal of challenging Roe v. Wade.

Alabama governor Kay Ivey said as much in her official statement: “No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.”

Will Roe v. Wade definitely be overruled if this case makes it to the Supreme Court?

It’s not entirely clear. But with five conservative justices on the court and four liberal ones, it’s not an exaggeration to say that a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy is seriously threatened. (The New York Times reports that changes are likely to be more incremental in a court led by Chief Justice John Roberts, who has shown restraint when overruling precedent.)

What are some of the reasons a woman may want or need an abortion?

If the woman is a victim of rape or incest. If the unborn fetus or the woman has health problems. If the birth would cause psychological trauma. If the woman can not afford a child. If having a child dramatically interferes with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for her dependents. If birth control fails, and the woman does not want a child. Because it’s her choice and her body.

But what if you, personally, oppose abortion?

Many people who oppose abortion want to stop abortion by making it illegal. But the truth is, making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortion. It just makes it less safe. Evidence has shown, time and time again, that women will continue getting abortions in places where it’s illegal — they just have to do it under illegal, unsafe conditions. Thousands of women die of complications from unsafe abortions every year, and many others suffer major long-term health problems, including infection and hemorrhaging. “This hurts women, their families and their communities, but it does little to reduce abortion,” says the Center for American Progress.

A better way to reduce abortion is to reduce unintended pregnancies.

The rate of abortions naturally declines when the number of unintended pregnancies declines. According to researchers, the biggest driver for abortion decline is increased access to contraception. (“Colorado, for example, provided birth control for little or no cost to low-income women across the state,” reports Vox. “Between 2009 and 2013, it saw the state’s teen pregnancy rate decline by more than 40 percent— the sharpest drop in the country over that time period.”)

Other ways to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, according to the Center for American Progress: comprehensive sex education that includes medically accurate information about abstinence and contraception; insurance coverage of and public funding for family planning services; greater access to emergency contraception (which prevents pregnancy and does not cause abortion); and programs that help curb domestic violence and sexual abuse.

What can we do to help?

Donate. The ACLU, Planned Parenthood and NARAL are all fighting to defend a woman’s right to end a pregnancy safely and legally. The National Network of Abortion Funds helps remove financial and logitical barriers for low-income people seeking abortions. And in Alabama, The Yellowhammer Fund helps women in Alabama with medical costs, travel and a place to stay, if they need and/or want an abortion. (Alabama has only three abortion clinics, plus demanding state hurdles and waiting periods.)

“Alabama politicians will forever live in infamy for this vote, and we will make sure that every woman knows who to hold accountable,” said Staci Fox, the president of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. “In the coming days, we will be mounting the fight of our lives — we will take this to court and ensure abortion remains safe and legal.”

Volunteer. Help support Planned Parenthood’s work by volunteering at a clinic or by making calls from home. You can sign up here.

Get local. You can find local ways to help, based on where you live, in this great Twitter thread.

Please leave suggestions of other ways to help, below. Thank you so much for reading. xo

(Photo by the Associated Press of a march in Washington, D.C., of women demanding legalized abortion, 1971, via the New York Times.)

  1. Anna says...

    I find it unbelievable that the majority of pro lifers in America also support liberal gun access, and watch children get murdered AT SCHOOL time and time again. A pre-sentient being somehow outweighs the rights of the fully autonomous woman carrying it, but the rights of a feeling, thinking child don’t outweigh the tenuous “rights” of an angry man with an axe to grind who wants to be able to buy a semi automatic with no background checks? Unbelievable hypocrisy. Likewise, these people are for the DEATH PENALTY? If you are unconditionally “for life” then how can you vote in favour of state sanctioned murder??

  2. Rachel says...

    Thank you for covering this very important topic. In high school, I wrote a paper on protecting women’s access to safe reproductive healthcare (including abortions). I was told by my teacher that this was already guarenteed by Roe v. Wade and I didnt have to worry about it. How I wish this was true…
    20 years later , I am getting treatment for infertility and want nothing more than a healthy, viable pregnancy. I live in Ohio and I am scared. Women undergoing infertility treatments have a higher risk of pregnancy complications. I am horrified that someone would argue that an unviable fetus has more of a right to life than me. If I end up in this situation, all I ask is that any decision that is made is between myself, my husband and my doctor.

  3. 1IO0P[]' says...

    I started reading this blog years ago. I was drawn in by the honesty of the posts. Joanna has always seemed to me like a loving, open-hearted person, almost like a friend though I’ve never met her and rarely left comments.. She and the other writers seem like people I could be friends with. That being said, I find the view in this post shocking. It is a life. Nothing a pregnant woman does can ever erase the fact that she carries a new, innocent 1` life inside her. There is another way that is not abortion and there are resources for women who become unexpectedly pregnant.

  4. Caitlin says...

    Cup of Joe readers – does anyone know of good places to volunteer not just donate money? I work from home in a rural area with a toddler and no child care, but there have to be some good organizations that need help that can be done from home? Phone calls? Research? Writing? I want to do something/anything to fix the terrible state of our country.

    • Alexia says...

      That’s so amazing you want to donate your time! You could start by calling your own representatives—especially city and state officials.

      I also know that in some cities (not sure about rural areas) women volunteer to look after the children or activists.

  5. A says...

    I got an abortion six years ago. I was with a longtime partner who I didn’t want to be with. I never regretted the decision for one single second. I am grateful that I was able to make that decision, which led to my beautiful children now. It is horrifying what is happening. Abortion is healthcare.

  6. Lisa says...

    I live in Denmark, and whenever I hear about US politics (ever since Trump at least) I loose all hope. Then I read Cup of Jo, and my hope is restored!

    I’m sorry that this is happening to you. I wish you so much good luck in fighting this frightening developement.

    Love, a fellow sister

  7. Laura says...

    Here is my story: Twice in my life I have become pregnant (unplanned) at times that were inconvenient, cumbersome, embarrassing, and taxing financially and emotionally. I will honestly and vulnerably tell you that I found myself wondering whether abortion would give me the escape I wanted from the mess I found myself in. I say all this as a preface to give you some context and tell you that I can empathize with almost any woman who has found herself pregnant and wanted to escape the situation due to social, cultural or economic hardship.

    However, I believe that life begins at conception. The most consistent argument that I hear from pro-choice folks is “My body, My choice”. My response is, of course you may do what you like with your body! But the life that forms at conception is a definitively separate body with a separate blood type, separate DNA, separate heartbeat, and so forth. The argument that an unborn baby is a part of the mother’s body is akin to saying that a loaf of bread baked in an oven IS the oven, since it’s embedded in the oven and dependent on the environment and energy that the oven provides to develop fully. That rationale is intrinsically flawed. The fact that the loaf is not fully developed until the timer dings does not change the empirical fact that it is a separate entity than the oven. I don’t mean to oversimplify; however the comparison stands.

    I will tell you that I am immensely thankful that I had a supportive community who rallied around me and helped me through my pregnancies and subsequent post-partum period and child-rearing. I am eternally grateful that I chose life for my beautiful babies.

    The experiences I have been through have only reinforced my belief that ALL human life is intrinsically valuable and worthy of respect, NO EXCEPTIONS. “A person’s a person, no matter how small!”

    • Vero says...

      I’m glad you made the choice that felt most right for you in a difficult situation!

      Your analogy is interesting but the difference is that the woman is growing the fetus. The fetus is literally made out of her physical body and nourished by her tissues and body. Bread is not literally created and made and nourished by the material of the oven itself. And furthermore, an oven doesn’t feel pain, emotions, isn’t an independent being that should be able to have its own autonomy and make its own decisions. So I see what you’re trying to say but it’s not a worthy comparison. What’s ironic is that within this legislation, women ARE regarded as a sort of incubator, like the oven in your analogy, without thoughts or feeling or input on the whole situation.

      I think each woman should be able to make her own choice. If I became pregnant, I know I would have a decision to make. I can’t presume to yet know what that decision would be because I’m not in that position. It’s totally okay if you already know what your decision would be as a hypothetical question but we can’t impose our answers to our OWN situations on other people who have a completely different set of circumstances and beliefs that we know nothing about.

    • Krista says...

      Of course it’s a separate entity. But it’s not autonomous or independently capable of life. So there aren’t two beings; there is merely one (hence my body, my choice). Analogies are always difficult because it’s easy to choose one that suits your argument and ignores complexities in the real situation, but to continue with yours…

      unbaked bread isn’t a thing – it is ONLY the potential to be bread. Yet because your moral or religious beliefs afford baked bread status to the unbaked bread, you’re telling me that I have to treat my unbaked bread as being MORE valuable than the oven it’s in. I can’t take the bread out, even if I need the oven to cook something more important to me or my family. I’m totally comfortable with you believing that, but I don’t. So I have a difficult time understanding why your moral or religious belief should dictate why what I do with my oven. You decide how to deal with your unbaked bread and please, please let me decide how to deal with mine.

      I don’t mean for the bread thing to sound callous; it’s just an attempt to follow through on the original poster’s analogy.

    • Christine says...

      Laura, i think your point is wonderfully relayed and the analogy is a great one. I applaud you for choosing life. I don’t see these as laws against women, but laws in favor of innocent lives.

    • Meghann Halfmoon says...

      It’s wonderful that you had a choice. It’s equally important that it remains a choice.

      How lucky for you that you had such a supportive community.

      Yet, how naive and unaware of your own privilege to assume that all women do.

    • Nicole says...

      In response to Laura, your story illustrates why we should all have the choice to decide what is best for us rather than legislators. It’s wonderful that you had support (not everyone does) and that you are happy with your choice (key word here). I too have opinions on ethics and medical care, for example I had an unmedicated childbirth and I believe it was great for me and aligned with my strong beliefs about avoiding interventions and pharmaceutical drugs, but I would never presume to tell another person how to handle pain or make choices about their medical care.
      I also have strong ethical opinions about about encouraging people to have fewer children, but would never force people to have fewer or no children, even though there is an obvious environmental benefit.
      The “personhood” concept which you have articulated and obviously sincerely believe in is a *belief*, not a universally acknowledged fact, and should be treated as such by the law. I’m not sure if you’ll ever see this and I may be speaking in a like-minded bubble (which isn’t a great position) but I wish more people understood their opinions were just that, opinions, and stopped trying to legislate non-medical and non-factual opinions on the lives of others.

    • Gloria says...

      You are speaking from a place of privilege, most likely white, where you have a supportive community of means who can “rally” for you because they are not concerned about how they will feed, cloth and shelter the children they already have. I am happy you were able to make a choice that worked for you. But you are not all of us.

    • Savannah says...

      Laura, I think you revealed your true colours when you compared women to an oven. Women are not insentient incubators – and therein lies the nub of the difficult issue of abortion, and the precise reason why many support a woman’s right to have control over the outcome of her pregnancy.

      I’m glad that your choices worked out well for you. Perhaps ask yourself how you would be feeling about your choice not to have an abortion if your community wasn’t supportive, and if you were now living on the streets with your two children, unable to feed and clothe them.

  8. Brooke West says...

    Run for office at the state level is another thing you can do – right? In these states? Or put Dem in in 2020 and add more justices?

  9. MJ says...

    seems if you are anti-abortion – don’t have one.

  10. Thank you!

  11. kash says...

    Thanks for this, CoJ. Access to abortion is one of my all-time top political issues–I see it as so important.

    I am seeing some comments here about the “value of seeing the other side,” but I have to confess that I am struggling with how some commenters are using that argument. I have considered the anti-abortion side, but I do not find the arguments made on that side at all compelling. That is my honest and heartfelt judgment; I feel it so strongly that it goes past something that can be dismissed as “my opinion” and into something that is more like a fundamental truth I believe about the world. Like many commenters, I think that safe access to abortion is essential to a feminist, equality-oriented approach to the world.

  12. Caitlin says...

    Is it wrong of me to be really annoyed that is isn’t a front page headline news on CNN? I’m not a huge CNN lover (minus Anderson Cooper of course) because of the very strong bias, but for some reason it is really hurtful to me that even in liberal new outlets women’s rights being violated isn’t deemed front page worthy news.

    • Emily says...

      YES! This! I feel like this is just another example of the patriarchy dictating what women — and by extension men who consider themselves allies to the feminist cause — should and shouldn’t consider important. Like the pink tax, political representation and equal pay or lack thereof, the push to legalize anti-abortion measures is just another front in the war against women’s rights. If they give it less prominence, they suppress any discussion or protest and cut off any opposition from gaining ground before the proposed bills are signed into law.

    • elise says...

      That’s the point. It’s an ancient strategy of misogyny to deny a voice. What could be more patronizing?

  13. Savannah Morgan says...

    Thank you for posting a piece about this. I am an avid reader of this blog and love that you cover so many issues. After reading a bit of the comment section I am happy to see the conversations stirring. I hope they will remain respectful. While being hidden behind a computer screen can make it easier to be harsher than one would in real life, I do hope that it allows us to have more open conversations that may be inhibited in face-to-face conversations.

    I am anti-abortion, but I do sympathize with the many reasons may choose an abortion. Carrying a child and then possibly raising a child you did not prepare for can be a strain on you emotionally, financially, academically, vocationally, etc. etc. etc.

    The only thing I can say is that I cannot have this stance and not fight for good sex ed, easy access to contraceptions, insurance as a human right. I also, as a Christian, feel the church must apologize for how we have shunned women who come to us pregnant, all the while slamming them for getting an abortion. There are certainly situations where that seemed like the only option in order to keep their community which is truly heartbreaking.

    Apologies and changes must be made. I thank you, Cup of Jo, for creating space for this very conversation.

    • Ryan says...

      Though I’ve never commented (thinking, why would anyone care what I have to say?) I always read the Cup of Jo comment sections and just marvel at the incredible community centered around this blog. It’s respectful, delightful, funny and caring.
      I’m commenting now because I was so touched at your post, Savannah. It shows empathy, compassion and understanding. Even though we’re on opposite ends (I’m pro-choice and not religious), I feel like we’re on the same side with wanting to reduce unwanted pregnancies. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and thank you to Jo for creating a space where people can come together.

    • Jean says...

      Thank you, I realize you must feel rather vulnerable in sharing this, because it’s difficult to have a nuanced view of the issue in a sea of slogans. It’s an agonizing topic, and as a Christian who also believes that a pregnancy involves two distinct human beings, both of which are beloved by God and both of which deserve to thrive, I understand now how the argument “just don’t have one” doesn’t work. But when I was fully pro-choice, I truly believed that was sufficient, and so I understand. It’s difficult to explain to pro-choice people why I don’t agree with abortion, and yet also take a stand that laws like these are seriously problematic. I was surprised to see the number of pro-life voices here, actually. This is probably the most sensitive, nuanced, and intelligent sharing I’ve seen on this issue, and I’m glad it happened here. Joanna did right in opening the conversation and trusting the majority of her readers to be kind, sensible, and understanding.

      As someone who wants to see a world in which all life is treated with compassion and dignity, I can’t see that these laws accomplish that end. There are many, many better things we must do first.

  14. Sheena says...

    I really just want to add to the chorus of those saying ‘thank you’. And to add a link to Amanda Palmer’s timely (and beautiful) song, Voicemail for Jill: https://youtu.be/Npq_ieGCzes

  15. Thank you so much to Cup of Jo for the information and perspective. I am ardently pro-choice and believe that it’s incredibly important for those of us who share this view to advocate on behalf of abortion rights and, especially and fundamentally, birth control and reproductive health education. If we did a better job preventing unwanted pregnancies, we’d be so much better off.

    That noted, I will never support denying abortion to women who have been the victims of rape. Never.

  16. Rebecca says...

    Thank you.

  17. Lulu103 says...

    Thank you for posting. The decision to be a mother and bear a child should be a personal decision, not punitive.

  18. Tiffany says...

    Thank you so much for this important post. I am in a state of disbelief! Your post was informative, insightful, and I love that you provided links on ways to get involved. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  19. Andrea says...

    I think it’s fair to say that abortions are tragic. They do stop what is, or what will be (depending on where you draw the line) a life. At best, choosing an abortion is probably the least bad of a lot of terrible options. But here’s the thing. Sometimes it IS the least bad option, and unless you are living in that woman’s life, you can’t know that. My story isn’t her story and I can’t know what choice another person needs to make. Abortions won’t stop if they are illegal; they will just become less safe when they remain the least bad option in a bad situation.

    • Alexandra Cottrell says...

      Andrea, this was a really thoughtful and considerate comment, but I would disagree that abortions are inherently tragic. As you said, every person’s choice is dependent on their own story; for lots of pregnant people an abortion was simply a medical procedure that they opted to have. Not everyone agonizes over this choice or thinks it is just the least bad option, and framing this choice as a tragedy contributes to the culture of shame and silence around abortion.

    • Meghan says...

      When I was in my mid 20s, I worked for Planned Parenthood and one of my responsibilities was to oversee dispensing a fund of donated money reserved for women who were seeking safe, legal abortions but who did not have the financial resources to afford one. You comment could not be more true. Time and time again I witnessed women who were, as you say, struggling to make the least bad choice from many difficult options.
      Thank you CofJ.

    • Ailsa says...

      ‘My story isn’t her story’ … what a lovely line. I wish pro life people could accept this, we all must have the right to decide what is best for our bodies.

    • elise says...

      But a pregnancy also stops a life: the mothers. It is the mother who is the priority because there is only one of her and she can easily have a chosen child with a responsible and loving father under the right circumstances.

    • Wonderfully said.

  20. maia says...

    Thank you so much CoJ for this post.
    I’m French and send you much love and support in these difficult time for american women.
    Growing up, I was very surprised watching american tv-shows : abortions were never adressed while in France it’s a lot less taboo (even if we had some problems about the subject lately too).
    A quote from Simone de Beauvoir, writer : “N’oubliez jamais qu’il suffira d’une crise politique, économique ou religieuse pour que les droits des femmes soient remis en question. Ces droits ne sont jamais acquis. Vous devrez rester vigilantes votre vie durant.”
    “Never forget that a political, economical or religious crisis will be enough to cast doubt on women’s rights. These rights will never be vested. You’ll have to stay vigilant your whole life.”
    I’m so sorry she was so true and think of you, people fighting for your rights, very much!

  21. Emily says...

    Just wanna say I appreciate you all so much!! For writing such a thoughtful, well-researched, and powerful post and for the work that goes into moderating this comments section. There is such a range of responses here and some have made my blood pressure spike like whoa, so I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you. Thank you for using your platform and I hope you all have the chillest weekends after a hard news week.

  22. Mom4kids says...

    While I believe this bill is outrageous, for the simple fact that these law makers want to take it to supreme court, I think it would be helpful to understand that MOST anti-abortion people see an abortion as a disregard to human live, and the potential of life, especially after the 1 trimester, and don’t even get me started about a late term abortions. The need to see things from the “other side” is just as important. Please try to understand that pro-life people see it as a moral issue, too, and as a society WE. CAN. DO. BETTER. This issue is not black and white. It’s very grey.
    And before I get my head chewed off for an opinion, because that’s all this is, let me say-

    I DO NOT SUPPORT THIS BILL AS WRITEN

    I am an Independent
    I did not vote for President Trump
    I hate all power-hungry politicians equally
    I have 4 children with my husband. I was 20 when we had our first, and we both finished school while raising our kids.
    I believe life and creation of life is sacred
    I believe abortion should always be an option for rape/incest, and very young girls
    I believe that ALL life has meaning and purpose, even a life that comes with a genetic mutation (MY OPINION), no matter how long or short
    I believe abortion as birth control is dangerous for women and a blithe practice in our modern culture.
    I believe we need to do MUCH better taking care of each other, especially the poor because they make up a large portion of abortions, on a personal level and as a society

    I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, but many people do, and while my opinion means nothing, it does shape the way I vote, and that is my right!

    Hate away…

    • Lindsay says...

      Thanks, I feel the exact same way.

    • Rose says...

      I agree completely that it’s a moral choice. The key word there is choice.

    • Lynn says...

      I’m not here to hate on you. Far from it. I’m writing to take issue with the common belief that people use abortion as birth control. I’ve had D&C surgeries with mild sedation due to miscarriage. It’s the same procedure as many abortions. No one would do that once and then ever do it again “as birth control”. Just one of those would compel anyone to use condoms, the pill, IUDs, the morning after pill, ANYTHING to avoid a costly and painful D&C. Good use of the word “blithe” though.

      PS – Good luck finding anti-abortion candidates to vote for who also care about helping the poor. I beg you and all anti-abortion proponents to not be single issue voters.

    • Gemma says...

      I don’t hate at all, and I respect your right to believe that life begins at conception. There is just one statement I don’t understand and I would love you to clarify – that abortion is birth control and “a blithe practice in our modern culture”.

      Where is your evidence for this? Who are these abortion-happy women? Tell me your stories.

      Because I will tell you mine: I’ve been a grown-up for a long, long, long time. I know a lot of women who had abortions. Absolutely none of them undertook it blithely. No one – ever – says ‘oh yeah baby sure you can skip the condom I’ll just get an abortion in six weeks we cool’ and then skips off to the nearest clinic and high-fives herself afterwards. It’s a private, difficult decision. It’s never happy. It’s never easy. It’s absolutely never blithe.

      And by the way, all of those friends went on, years or even decades later, to become wonderful intentional mothers who cherish the children they are financially and emotionally ready to take care of themselves. Blithe mothers, in fact.

    • Shawn says...

      I agree with 90% of what you said and I have tremendous respect for you posting it here. I too do not agree with this bill as written but to quote Newton”for every action there tends to be an equal and opposite reaction”. Perhaps this bill was triggered by certain politicians pushing for third trimester/late term and even after birth “abortions” (which I think is abhorrent). Just a thought.

    • Eva says...

      Thank you!! Your comment has really encouraged me while going through this comment thread, because I feel that there is a prominent message coming through, and it is refreshing to see something that shows another way of looking at it.
      My personal stance is ‘pro-humanity’ – I’m pro-life but in the way that I value ALL life, and that must include the mother’s. And I’m against the male senators’ horrible and insensitive comments. But I totally agree with you, it’s important for everyone to look from the other side too.
      Going through social media in the past 24 hours, I have felt attacked for holding my beliefs, but I would never attack other people for thinking what they think. When we talk about the right for everyone to hold and speak their opinions, surely that means that we have the right to speak our opinion that places value on both the life of the baby, and the mother, without getting attacked.
      I think that it’s too easy for people to label pro-life stances as (from my own experience) ‘anti-women’, ‘conservative’ and ‘disgusting.’ I’m a woman, I love women, and I stand strong in that belief!
      It’s just that, no matter what, in my opinion nothing can validate taking away a potential life because it doesn’t fit with their circumstance. We should not have that power over someone who cannot stick up for themselves.
      So, thank you!! It is your right to voice what you believe. xx

    • Dharma says...

      I fully agree with you that more respect, and the willingness to listen to the other’s sides perspective, would benefit this debate as it would many other issues. The unwillingness to hear or see another’s perspective is the start of a very dangerous slippery slope.

      That said, I hear some dismissiveness in some of your arguments which suggests that you perhaps aren’t willing to consider the other side. Your comment “late term abortions – don’t even get me started” is a complete write off of an incredibly complex issue that represents the absolute minority of abortions and shouldn’t be the issue that influences sound policy discussion around the majority of abortions.

      The percentage of abortions which are late term are minuscule and far and away are done for heart breaking circumstances, usually significant risk of maternal mortality or life threatening fetal anomalies. It’s still an intensely personal decision, and one that some people would never want to make; and that’s fine. But let’s not dismiss it out of hand as something not worthy of discussion because the evidence is so black and white that it’s abhorrent.

    • MC says...

      I second what Lynn says. No one’s here to hate on you. Your opinion counts because you’re a human being and you deserve to be heard. However it might be a little counterproductive for you to assume people will stoop to calling names just to get their point across.
      OK so I’m taking a deep exhale before I say this. This bill is seriously concerning because of one reason and one reason alone: Women are, have been fighting and will continue to fight to be seen, to be heard and just to exist. Somewhere in the world right now a young girl is being denied the right to: read books, go to school, ride a bike, drive, vote, not get married to someone 3x her age etc. I mean it’s hard not to feel physically sick when you think about it! I think it was Oprah that said as a women you’re lucky to born in the United States. How is any of that relevant? Well because it falls down to CHOICE. When one choice is taken away from you, it’s a just matter of time before something else is.
      So you’re allowed to be “anti-abortion”, but please do not take that choice away from another woman, because that would be undoing the hard work so many people before us did to get us (women) where we are today.
      And respectfully, morals have very little to someone choosing to have an abortion. The truth is none of us can ever imagine what a person has had to endure unless they speak up about it.

    • Sarah says...

      Hi. Reproductive rights are so hard. I was an egg donor in my twenties and i don’t go a day without wondering what happened. I had a daughter at 40 and she is the joy of my life. I also had 2 miscarriages, and numerous friends who have struggled with reproduction on many levels from IVF to abortion. All of us have suffered, but now all my friends who went through abortions are being asked to overshare their experiences in public for what? Someone to blithely judge them. I wonder if you would maybe consider listening to episode 194 of The Longest Shortest Time podcast. It’s about a late term abortion. It’s an interesting point of view you might appreciate.

    • FGB says...

      Sarah, thank you for the link to the Podcast. That was so informative, important and heart wrenching. So important for all of us to remember that we can’t possibly presume to know what women making these choices are going through and what intricacies may go into each decision. Choice and accessibility are so Important.

  23. Estella87 says...

    I am a reader from Austria (Europe) and I heard about this law in Alabama. I recently had my first child and even though I wasn’t in favor of abortion before, I also was never against it. Going through childbirth and seeing how a child impacts your life I am now completely behind abortions and think they should be available to whomever needs them. Yes, there are women who are very careless and use it as a means of contraception and that’s not ok (I knew a girl who got 3 abortions in 2 years and at the 4th the doctors told her of she keeps going like that she might never have children so she kept that one). But still, giving birth, the changes your body goes through, the risk of permanent damage to your body and even death – it HAS to be a choice.
    So thank you for writing this and making people a little more aware.

  24. Thank you for making a brave choice to post this to all the Cup of Jo team. If you did not make this post, I did not know about this action taken in Alabama and would continue living without many facts you educated the readers here. Again, thank you.

  25. Caitlin says...

    Thank you thank you thank you CoJ

  26. MJ says...

    Thank you Joanna for posting – such important information. It’s brave of you. I didn’t think I could like your blog more but I was wrong!

  27. Marie says...

    Thank you so much for covering this, CoJ team. xo right back to you.

  28. NM says...

    So much has been said here already, but…

    A. For those interested in ending abortion, please consider all other means at your disposal. First, acknowledge that you will never be able to END it completely. So, how can you work to LOWER abortion rates? You CAN put your energy into ensuing access to free/affordable contraception, sex education, free/affordable childcare, higher education scholarships for mothers, health care for all, etc. That is a SAFE, effective, and HUMANE way to lower abortion rates— by preventing pregnancies, and by SUPPORTING women who choose to keep their baby… throughout their and their baby’s life. NOT only in the embryonic stage.

    B. Acknowledge that a major component of this IS about managing women’s sexuality. If it isn’t, please place IVF clinics at the top of your agenda as they have many embryos there that will be terminated. (Of course, please don’t do this— because they are the way that many women who want to become mamas can.)

    • Gemma says...

      Yes!!!

    • ally says...

      Great post! I hundred percent agree! I think I struggle with the irony of this bill that is getting so much traction base on moralality yet America STILL does not have paid maternity and does little (compared to other counteries) to support mums.

  29. Michele says...

    Brave and very well written piece. It is 2019 and I am not sure why it is acceptable to women that men make laws about our bodies. So ironic that the pregnant female got that way because of a male, who often will not accept responsibility or have an involvement. And yet the men think it is ok to make decision for women. If this march to the Supreme Court isn’t stopped it will set America back to a time that is almost medieval.

    • Jen says...

      Hear, hear. Women simply cannot become pregnant by themselves. But imagine the outcry that would occur over a similarly regressive, controlling policy directed toward governing the bodies and actions of the all male impregnators, with their “irresponsible ejaculations”, as Gabrielle Blair wrote. Where is THAT legislation?

  30. Tonia S says...

    THANK YOU, COJ!!! This is such an important topic and post. My blood has been boiling all week over the news.

  31. j says...

    When I was 19, in college, and dating someone for a very short time, I got pregnant. My mother took me to have a completely safe abortion very early and I was able to complete and graduate college, get a job, move, marry that same guy and now have two healthy beautiful children and another one on the way. My choice. My body. So thankful for that and horrified for the women’s futures this will jeopardize.

  32. Ashley C. says...

    Thank you for such a comprehensive, thoughtful resource.

  33. A says...

    Adding my voice to the many – thank you so much for this post. We need to believe in each woman ‘s ability to make the right decision for herself, based on her beliefs and situation. Access to accurate medical information and safe abortions is a crucial part of this. Thank you for speaking up!

  34. Elle says...

    “What gives you the right to decide for another person?” This is exactly why I am pro-life. I believe life begins at conception. Because I believe this, I will fight to defend the right to life of the unborn. I believe women do not have the right to decide if the human growing inside them should live or die.

    “But it’s not a human. It’s a yolk sac or cluster of cells.” Who are we to decide this? When does the cluster of cells become a human? What about the babies that survive abortion attempts? Why can babies exposed to alcohol or other harmful substances in the first trimester be born with problems? Plain and simple: because it’s the same life the whole time.

    “Our bodies are OURS.” Right. But the body growing inside of you isn’t yours.

    “It’s ok for you to take this view for yourself, but you can’t project your views on other women.” I would be exceptionally bad at taking a stand if I only defended the right to life of babies whose mothers were Christian or shared my views. Because I believe all babies at any age are living beings, I will continue to insist they are given the same rights as all of us: All men are CREATED equal…they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    “Men are making decisions about women’s bodies.” Polls show that women are just as pro-life as men. https://news.gallup.com/poll/244709/pro-choice-pro-life-2018-demographic-tables.aspx

    “What about rape?” This is a HORRIFIC situation. I believe a rape victim should be supported and helped in every way possible. I still believe she is carrying life inside her.

    “Women should be able to choose to abort if they don’t want a baby or can’t support it right now.” Adoption is a beautiful option that could in turn support women who cannot have children. I also find it interesting that the lowest income bracket polled in the link above had nearly twice the percentage of people being pro-life rather than pro-choice.

    The world is increasingly adopting the view that “whatever you think or do is ok because YOU are YOU and you do what you want.” Where do we draw the line?

    • Adrienne says...

      Sometimes there is little middle ground. I do think we can get closer though. So what I ask people who are against abortion is:
      1. Are you voting for politicians who make birth control ever more affordable? Abortions decreased 25% from 2008-2014. Most attribute this to better birth control. Yet “the right” is working to make sure that birth control is optional for insurance coverage, and has “abstinence only” education, despite studies showing this doesn’t work.
      2. Many of the babies aborted today (but not all) have significant genetic and congenital “defects.” This might not lessen the worth of their life, but it sure makes it more expensive. Before Obama care these children often hit their insurance life-time max before they left the hospital. Or were uninsurable due to a pre-existing condition. Do you vote for people who want universal health coverage for children and people with disabilities?
      3. What about the “extras” that come with raising a child with disabilities? The in-home feeding, physical, occupational and speech therapies? The communication devices? The walkers and wheelchairs? A night nurse so the parents can sleep and the nurse can suction the trach and rehang the IV bag and silence the alarms? Funding to get to and from and stay near a hospital sometimes hundreds of miles from home so your child can have the appointments and surgeries required? An aide so they can go to school? A program for when they age out of the public school system? A safe place for them to live when their parents are old and infirm and die?
      It’s very easy to say that all life matters, but is it? Is the LIFE worth fighting for, or just the birth? When I see legislation that shows me that LIFE is valued, regardless of the sins of the mother, I can at least conceive of meeting you half way. As it stands now, all I see is that conservatives want all these beautiful, damaged babies born, and then will abandon them and their families to the wim of fate.

    • caligirl says...

      You have a right to hold the views that you do about life. In fact, I know several people who agree with you and I have profound respect for a few of them. They are truly pro-life and fight very hard against war, climate change, poverty, lack of access to healthcare, etc. There are so many threats to life and I imagine that you are among those who is truly and consistently pro-life. I also, however, know several people who fight vehemently against safe abortion access while shamelessly supporting policies that endanger life at a staggering scale. Those are the people that deserve the kind of hate you seem to be anticipating.

    • Leah says...

      I can see your point. What I don’t see is why “pro life” is always about restricting abortions.
      What about a accesible healthcare (geographically & financially) for pregnant women, new moms, kids?
      What about mental health services for those suffering from post partom depression or rape trauma?
      What about affordable childcare?
      Solutions to gun violence so kids won’t get shot to death in school?
      For some reason once someone is alive all those wonderful “pro life” legislative initiatives are gone and forgotten.

      Once a LIVING women and children’s lives and well being are protected and guaranteed, than let’s have a conversation about abortions.

    • Rebecca says...

      100% agree. Thank you for speaking up, Elle.

    • MoMo says...

      I believe abortion should be legal. There are some cases in which it is justified. Rape and incest come to mind…..they are not a bad decision regarding a woman’s right to a healthy sex life; they are violent and depraved crimes. Also, parents who are dealing with the heartbreak of a badly damaged fetus should not have to ask permission to end a pregnancy. They do not need even more heartbreak.
      However — as a society we need to define what we are dealing with here, and after DECADES of debate, there is still no consensus. Is it a life? Many say no, but curiously, fail to explain what it IS. A clump of cells? Sure, but that defines all of us. Just another part of a woman’s body? Um, no — from any part of a woman’s body you can obtain a sample of her DNA— except for the fetus. The fetus has its own DNA. By the way, 30 days after conception, the fetus also has a beating heart and brain waves. Clearly this is not a third kidney.
      I don’t know anything else in the world that is defined solely on what any individual THINKS or WANTS it to be. Whether we need it for lumber, fruit, shade, or animal habitat, a tree is a tree. Water is water, whether or not we use it for drinking, washing or irrigating. How is it possible that, with all the technology available to us, we still can’t decide what IT is? And if you believe it is NOT human — THEN what is it? And when exactly does it become human? At birth? If a baby is premature, do we get a grace period to decide whether or not it lives? I’m not getting sentimental here (although I easily could) but three of my five grandchildren were a month early. And it’s sobering to know that some abortion law language would have allowed them to be terminated the day before they were born.
      I am appalled at feminist leaders who bemoan the loss of our reproductive rights while failing to point out our reproductive responsibilities. Yes, it’s awful that women have to bear the brunt of an unwanted pregnancy but it is what it is! Biology. And until that situation is reversed, making men the ones who carry a child and give birth, then we have to deal with it. It should go without saying: MEN have to step up and be equally responsible for preventing unwanted pregnancies. My sons were raised understanding this. But until this situation changes biologically, women have to be the enforcers.
      I STRONGLY agree that women need to control their bodies. But that control needs to be employed BEFORE pregnancy takes place. It is relatively easy to prevent the egg and sperm from meeting. What’s hard is being diligent, but it’s totally in a woman’s control. Turns out, I have been an extremely fertile woman who became pregnant immediately upon trying ( yes, in a day, each time). Also I was horrified by the possibility of bringing a child into the world within planning it. Even with a loving spouse, financial and family support, I understood that this lack of planning was very bad planning. Also — not bragging here, but we have enjoyed a very regular and happy sex life, so I’m not just talking the talk.
      In all if this debate I am hearing that one in four women have had abortions. That statistic should be embarrassing and shameful to all of us.
      To be clear — I am (at best) a lapsed Catholic, but I need to make clear the fact that I am discussing biology here. A fetus is a human in its very earliest form. This is not an opinion but a scientific fact. Left undisturbed it will become a human baby. Inconvenient? Very possibly. But still a baby. Let’s start with agreeing on that before w decide what to do with it.

    • Anita says...

      What do you want me to agree to, Momo? That women have more reproductive responsibility than men (it is what it is)? That when a women gets pregnant it’s because she failed to exert a sufficient amount of control over her body? That pregnancy isn’t really about a woman’s body but a baby that wants to be “left undisturbed,”
      as though gestation, labour and birth required nothing at all of women and our bodies? What you are calling “biology” is in fact a deeply patriarchal way of thinking that preserves men’s freedom and autonomy and overburdens women and deprives them of agency. Who’s interests are being served here? This is not “biology.”

    • Adrienne says...

      I just want to respond to Elle very briefly that I know a lot of rhetoric on the right is about so-called “late term abortions” and being able to terminate pregnancies up to 36 weeks—right when your grandchildren, and theee of my four children, were born. Even Trump advances this rhetoric. However, late-term abortions are reserved for highly compromised fetuses— babies, if you will. And even if the law doesn’t make this clear, a woman would have to find a provider willing to abort a healthy 36 week fetus. Realistically, I think we can both agree that the odds of anyone requesting such a thing must be approaching zero, and the odds of finding a dr willing to do such a thing are basically zero, and the chances of them meeting up together seem so ludicrous that I would bet that never has a 36 week old healthy fetus (baby) been aborted. I think an important part of any discussion, on both sides, is to not give way to hysteria or exaggeration, and when things seem too extreme to believe, to really check the facts.

    • Jen says...

      Let’s put it this way. You and I are in a hospital emergency room; you have organ failure and are in dire (life-or-death) need of a kidney. I am under no obligation to even see if I’m a match for you. Even if I’m a KNOWN match, I am under zero obligations to donate. Even if that means you die. And it’s not murder. Because all my body is mine all the time, and I get to decide what happens to it. I even get to leave directives as to what happens to my body after I die – you can’t just do what you want with it.

      And these clusters of cells – these unborn “people” – it’s the same. It sucks for them that they are dependent on my body to live. They are not entitled to use my body for their own purposes (even life or death ones) any more than you are.

      Also: 1) some states allow rapists parental rights. So in order to put the baby up for adoption, she’d need his consent, or she’d be co-parenting with her rapist. Or I guess she could give him custody and the child could be raised by a, uh… rapist. 2)Only a small percentage of the population is able to adopt, and the only reason there are families waiting is because they are waiting for Healthy. WHITE. Babies. The system is chock-full of older kids, kids of color, and kids with health and developmental issues. 3)The lowest income bracket also usually corresponds with the least educated, and this also corresponds with greater religious beliefs. 4)For a significant portion of the first trimester the zygote is self-sustaining, like a chicken egg, and actually isn’t affected by alcohol consumption etc. It takes some time for the zygote to set up systems to needed to get nutrients from the mother’s body, and in the meantime, they are not connected.

      Where do we draw the line? Literally the whole point this country was founded on was “stop telling us what to do” – i.e. religious freedom, taxation without representation, etc. We all agree to live and let live, with the understanding that we won’t all agree but we tolerate each other in exchange for being able to exercise our own choices and be in control of our own lives and bodies. There are plenty of examples where this isn’t the case, and they’re not places I – or likely, you – would want to live.

  35. Sita Daavettila says...

    What you’ve done here is very important. Educate. Elevate. Keep the discussion honest and relevant. Thanks Coj. Always worth risking the vulnerable conversations.

  36. Marty says...

    I think it is important to note that it is not just women who need access to abortions. Many trans, non-binary, and/or transmasculine people also are being unintentionally targetted by these restrictions on access to abortions. For example, I am a man but I also happen to be a man with a uterus. I am terrified because of these bills because as of now, I don’t plan on getting pregnant but my body is still being policed. This is a reproductive rights issue, not just a women’s issue. By no means am I trying to minimize what is at risk, I just want to point this out.

    • B says...

      I don’t understand. Why does this bill or others like this impact your body? Genuine question.

  37. katie says...

    COJ – thank you for posting this. I especially loved the searingly sparse paragraph about, ‘why a woman might want to get an abortion.”

    And this: “A better way to reduce abortion is to reduce unintended pregnancies.” A thousand times: yes!

    Reading this calm, cool, collected piece helped to assuage my rage about this legislation passing in the first place. Thank you for directing my energy toward solutions to better support women not only in Alabama, but nation wide.

    We are half of this planet.
    We matter, and we will not be oppressed.

  38. Lou says...

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’m worried that we’ve all taken abortion rights for granted and haven’t pushed as hard as we needed to the last 10 years. The anti-choice movement hasn’t let up and got a huge gust of wind in their sails from the recent Supreme Court justice appointments. We need to keep our eye on the ball and talk to friends and family members who may not be informed about this issue. Thanks for all of the work you do to empower women and preserve our rights to bodily autonomy. <3

    • Sherri says...

      Thank you for posting. Gabrielle makes a great argument.

  39. aleksandra says...

    … thank you for posting <3

  40. Lindsay says...

    Thank you CoJ team for taking a stand with this post. I truly 1000% percent do not understand how a woman’s right to make her own choices and control her body is up for debate. Reading through some of the anti-choice comments is blowing me away – but I am trying to sit with my anger and decide how I can best channel it into action (beyond donations to the above organizations). Thank you for all that you do. xo

    • Laura says...

      Hi Lindsay, maybe it would be helpful to define terms. You say, ” I do not understand how a woman’s right to…control her body is up for debate”. As a firm believer in life beginning at conception, I think I can speak for many pro-life folks when I tell you that it would truly be a terrifying person who wanted to keep you from controlling your OWN body, however the separate, biologically distinct body of an unborn baby inside a woman is entitled to respect and consideration as well.

      Your inherent assertion that people should have control and agency over their own bodies is one I agree with and advocate for for ALL humans – including the unborn.

  41. G says...

    Also, piggybacking on the “no one has the right to tell you what to do with your body” statement, then what about the body that you’ve decided is not worth living? If you claim to be pro-women, then why do you consider it ok to end the life of a women in utero because she is too helpless to speak? Have you ever watched or listened to an interview of person who has survived abortion? They are happy to be alive and thrilled they escaped death. Until we protect our most vulnerable we will never be truly free.

  42. Rebecca says...

    The world is awful. Awful things happen to people, no one is denying that! But you still can’t justify taking an innocent human life, under any circumstance.

    To those who argue that until viability the fetus is part of the mother’s body – no. From conception the fetus is a separate person. The fact it can not survive outside yet is because medical science hasn’t advanced enough yet. But I can guarantee that the date of viability will be pushed earlier and earlier.

    I’d love to see a timelapse of a human life from conception to birth. Watching such a film, at what point is ending its life permissible? Because it’s impossible to make such a judgment as to exactly when a fertilized egg becomes a person, ethically we must refrain from killing it – period.

    • Lindsay says...

      Thanks, so true. Also even after the baby is born full term, they are still dependent on us to keep them alive!

    • Jess says...

      Acknowledging that awful things happen, and therefore could forever happen to a vulnerable mother and her child she would have no choice but to have…how horrible of a ‘life’ is that. Until sufficient education and resources are readily available to ALL, we have got to put ourselves into another’s shoes.

  43. Justine says...

    This issue is beginning to make a come back in Canada as well. More and more socially conservative (anti-choice, want their religious beliefs ingrained in policy) right winger politicians are getting elected or nominated to run in the federal election in Canada. I have been a federal Conservative for years, but WILL NOT be supporting them this year because of the hard social right turn they are taking.

  44. Joanna says...

    Thank you for this post. So important in today’s climate.

  45. SB says...

    I appreciate COJ sharing about this issue, because even though it is a hot potato, these kinds of politics pervade womens’ lives in every state and every country.

    I also want to remind y’all that voter restrictions and voting issues are also to blame for these kinds of bills, since very few Americans – across the board! – believe in complete bans on abortion. I am donating to one of my state’s voting-focused non-profits and hope others are doing the same. Without reforms that make voting more accessible and possible, a small number of fundamentalist folks will continue to monopolize our government.

  46. This is an excellent, comprehensive piece on the issue. Thank you so much for your work, COJ team.

    briana

  47. Brooke says...

    It’s ridiculous to argue that anti-choice legislation will not actually impact the number of abortions being performed. Of course it will. Women in desperate situations would likely turn to dangerous, back alley abortion clinics, but I have a really hard time believing that privileged women who just don’t want the inconvenience of a baby and want to preserve their bodily autonomy will risk death or injury getting rid of it. This is exactly why people are pushing for the legislation – to reduce the number of abortions being performed. I think that’s a great goal.

    • Vero says...

      People with financial means will continue to get abortions, whether that means travelling out of state, paying exorbitant amounts of money to doctors who are risking their medical license, etc. Think about it. Wealthy people who have resources to pass down to their children and want to provide their children with a certain standard of living aren’t suddenly just going to just abandon that dream for their kids. They won’t just start having 5-10 kids each. They protect familial wealth, assets and influence through careful family planning and they always will.

    • Brooke says...

      Vero, true – but there a so, so many ways to prevent unplanned pregnancies besides abortion. Especially if you are wealthy and capable enough to go to lengths to get an abortion like you just described. The pro-choice argument that legislation will not decrease abortion rates is so inconsistent.
      Perhaps this is not your view, but I sense that many pro-choice commenters on here would argue that legislation making guns more difficult to access to will lower mass shooting deaths in the future. How can banning guns supposedly prevent people from getting guns, while banning abortions will not actually prevent people from getting abortions? You can totally get back-alley abortions, and you can definitely get illegal guns. I’m genuinely wondering what the response is.

    • Cece says...

      Women in a position of privilege will be able to travel and secure an abortion. Legislation like that proposed in Alabama will have a direct impact on the most vulnerable – the poorest, women of colour, young women, women trapped in coercive relationships without access to money of their own. And really? ‘The inconvenience of a baby?’ Unwanted pregnancy isn’t the result of a casual approach to contraception for most women. There is no contraceptive that’s 100% effective. Women aren’t getting pregnant because an abortion is an easier option than being careful. Although in lots of cases they ARE getting pregnant because access to accurate, detailed sex education or affordable, reliable contraception are restricted.

      If you want to reduce the number of abortions, don’t make access to one harder. Make sex education and affordable/free contraception easier and vote for politicians who have that goal in mind.

    • Rhiannon says...

      Actually, Brooke, it is not ridiculous to argue that abortion laws won’t impact the number of abortions being performed – because we have proof that this is the case. There is in fact only a tiny difference in the rate of abortions between those countries that permit it and those that don’t – this is actual data, not speculation. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide Further more, in reality the rates are likely to be even closer given the disincentives for women and providers to report abortion rates in countries where it is illegal.
      The significant difference is in the number of safe vs unsafe abortions.

      We know through years of bitter experience that unfortunately banning abortion does virtually nothing to reduce abortion rates. It just increases morbidity and MORTALITY for women. The practical upshot: same amount of dead babies/fetuses, more dead women. So if you are truly pro life, you should consider supporting sensible, regulated abortion.

      Kind regards.

    • Anita says...

      Brooke, I find your comment truly sadistic. That it is a “great goal” to force vulnerable women to seek dangerous back alley abortions, and that women who “want to preserve bodily autonomy” will have to “risk death or injury.” It speaks directly to what is objectionable about the Alabama bill: that it will harm women, and the underlying misogynistic belief that if women don’t accept that their bodies and their lives are subordinate to the “Life” that is created at conception then they should be punished for it. Shudder.

    • Jen says...

      1) Not only will wealthy white women continue to have access to safe abortions, but as stated above, they seek them less frequently anyway due to more consistent and better quality health care (i.e. birth control). This unfairly and disproportionately affects women who are already battling lack of health care, lack of funds, lack of access AND an abstinence-only education!

      2) Of course it will reduce the number of abortions. What we’re saying is it won’t END abortion. And if your goal is to decrease the number of abortions, there are other very effective ways of doing that without criminalizing abortion.

  48. Kim says...

    “But the truth is, making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortion. It just makes it less safe.” can also be read as, “But the truth is, taking away my right to bear arms doesn’t stop gun violence. It just makes me less safe.” Or, “But the truth is, taking away my right to choose by making vaccines and other medical treatment mandatory doesn’t make my child more healthy. It just makes my family less safe because government employees can take my child at any time.” Bottom line – this isn’t a black and white issue. Also, opposing sides can’t have it both ways. If you want your right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, I, too, get my right to choose – to choose how to protect my family and choose the type of disease prevention and healing I believe is best.

    • Allegra LaViola says...

      “But the truth is, taking away my right to choose by making vaccines and other medical treatment mandatory doesn’t make my child more healthy. It just makes my family less safe because government employees can take my child at any time.”

      What? Since when did vaccinating your child equal signing up for the g’vt to take him/her away at any time? These are not parallel procedures. And the “type of disease” prevention you choose has a chain reaction. If your kid has measles and passes it on you make that choice for OTHER people– by infecting them.

  49. Emily says...

    Thank you so much for posting this, I was looking forward to your team’s post about it. This is such an important moment in which all of us need to be paying attention and demanding the rights that we deserve as much as we can. At the end of the day, if you don’t want an abortion, then don’t get one; no one should get to make that choice for another woman.

  50. K says...

    I have so many thoughts but my first thought whenever abortion comes up is my mom telling me how my grandma terminated two pregnancies after already having 5 children, and how upset my grandpa was. My grandma didn’t admit it until rather recently to her very grown children and my grandpa long deceased. To imagine how alone she must have felt most likely dealing with the emotional and physical suffering alone because her husband, while a good person that everyone loved very much, just couldn’t empathize with her position of being the principal breadwinner and grocery shopper and meal cooker and clothes-maker, more or less the sign of the times of “that is just women did, take care of the family” and him much older and retired from the military with his head in the clouds–excited for cute babies but not clued in on the complete sacrifice that comes with rearing them. There are so many circumstances why women need abortions, to take control of their own pursuit of happiness–young or old, married or not, poor or rich, and on and on.

  51. Krista says...

    Does the Christian God care what the law is or does He judge us based on our actions and impacts? If he’s following American jurisprudence, the anti-choicers are all getting A pluses from the big man upstairs.

    If, instead, He cares about stopping the practice of terminating pregnancies because in God’s eyes that is murder, the anti-choicers are completely screwed because they will not have considerably moved the needle, even if Roe falls (abortion will still be legal in the blue states, obviously – and, again, laws don’t stop abortion, they just make it dangerous).

    This is so simple it blows my mind. More sex education. More free access to birth control. Fewer unplanned pregnancies.

    This is why it’s difficult to sympathize with anti-choicers – they do not act in a manner consistent with people trying to end mass murder. If that’s truly how they view abortion – how God views abortion – why in the world aren’t they handing out condoms everywhere, all the time? Even if Christian God thinks sex outside procreation is wrong, it can’t be MORE wrong than murder, can it? Wouldn’t He recognize that one evil is far lesser than the other and want us all to focus on putting an end to the murder?

  52. Megan says...

    Thank you, CoJ team, for posting this. A great example to all of us about using our voices to advocate for our rights. We’re stronger together.

  53. Meg says...

    A quick fact here, and one that I know is uncomfortable for people to talk about: the pro-life movement is women-led. While we might disagree with it, this law does represent Alabaman women, a vast majority of whom are pro-life.

    As a final note, I want to urge fellow commenters and writers to think about how rhetoric like “these women are being controlled by men” alienates women who, fully in control of their thoughts and opinions, are pro-life or are conservative in general. When we label women as a monolith we alienation of a huge section of our sisters from the important conversations that occur in the public domain.

    • Sarah says...

      Thank you for making this important point Meg! I was getting so frustrated with this rhetoric I kept seeing in the comments.

    • Abby says...

      Amen, so many amens.

      Joanna and team, do you realize that statistically half of women are pro-life? It baffles me that you write so assured that your opinion is that of the vast majority.

    • Jessi says...

      Less than a third of Alabama women support banning abortion without exception for rape and incest. Those women who do are imposing their beliefs on an entire state. Women who call me a murderer are not my sisters. Get out of here with that gross rhetoric.

    • caligirl says...

      Abby, there is absolutely no doubt that keeping abortion safe and legal is fundamental to women’s rights. The CoJ community is made up of women who support progress for women. What is truly baffling is that there are WOMEN willing to hinder the rights of other women. Of course, they exist but they are nowhere near half of the female population (nor are they half the male population). .

    • caligirl says...

      Also, the fact that women should be careful not to alienate those who are pro-life or conservative in general is absurd in the situation we are discussing. Nobody that I’ve seen here is criticizing pro-life women. They should continue to do as they feel. Some of those women (and men, of course) are risking doing far worse than alienate the rest of us by attempting to legislate our very bodies!!