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If you’re someone who follows the news, this week should feel like an assault on womanhood and personal autonomy.
In case you missed it, on Wednesday, Alabama’s governor (a woman herself) signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act—one of the most restrictive abortion ban bills ever introduced. This law seeks to prohibit abortions at every stage of pregnancy and does not allow exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
This law was passed by 25 white men who have never experienced an unwanted pregnancy for themselves—or any pregnancy, for that matter—yet, I’d bet, have caused several.
Even crazy-ass televangelist Pat Robertson made a statement that the bill “goes too far.” That should tell you something.
Yet it passed the Alabama state legislature and was signed into law. Oh, Alabama. Sigh. (Side note here, Alabama was recently ranked 50th out of 50 states for public education and 46th out of 50 for its healthcare by U.S. News & World Report.)
Now, before you get all fired up and start making moral judgments about me as a person, know this: I am “pro-choice,” but that does not always compute into “pro-abortion.” Rather, I respect the right of a woman to choose what is right for her own body in her own, very personal and private situation. I am also pro-education and pro-contraception, as both of these tools are scientifically proven and highly effective for reducing unwanted pregnancy and abortion.
I also can say I have not had to face the difficult choice of whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy for myself—and I am grateful for this every day. I can only imagine the emotional turmoil surrounding such a difficult decision—turmoil that likely continues long after the decision is made.
I do not put myself on a pedestal because I have dodged this bullet.
Instead, I recognize all the privilege I had surrounding my sexual health during my formative years. To begin with, I was not a victim of rape or incest. Furthermore, I was raised by two college-educated parents who were not afraid to teach me about my body, including the gifts and potential consequences therein. I had access to healthcare, and when I was too embarrassed to ask for help from my mom, I was able to get birth control and other forms of contraception from Planned Parenthood on a sliding scale.
All of these things saved me from having to make an excruciating decision about what to do in the event of an unplanned, unwelcome pregnancy. My entire life trajectory would be much different if I lacked access to any of these components during my years as a young woman.
Here is the kicker: I am lucky. I am blessed. I have inherent privilege on many levels simply for having been born in the right place at the right time to the right people. I had access to things many young women simply don’t.
But Alabama doesn’t care about that.
Alabama—or, more specifically, the white men serving in its legislature—would like its poorly educated women, many of whom lack access to healthcare or contraception, to start pumping out babies to give glory to God.
So, let’s talk about those babies, those sweet-smelling, innocent, adorable babies—because if Alabama has its way, we’ll be seeing a lot more of them.
What happens to those babies when they are born to a 12-year-old, with no means to support herself or a family? What happens to those babies when they are born drug addicted? What happens to those babies when they are born to a woman living on the streets or stuck in domestic violence? What happens to those babies when they are born as the sixth or seventh child to a single mom working a minimum wage job?
What sort of protection do “God’s children” receive then? Because I’ve been paying attention long enough to know that these holier-than-thou white Alabamian men, who claim to speak for God, who have likely faced little to no adversity in their own lives, give zero sh*ts about the actual human product after it leaves the womb.
So, you know what, Alabama? Until you want to fund public education, healthcare, drug treatment, childcare, job placement programs, and nutrition assistance (that is, until you care enough to nurture and sustain the human lives you are purportedly “protecting”), keep your damn hands off my uterus.