How does the Alabama Abortion Ban and The Heartbeat Bill affect every woman?
Last week the Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into a law that would make a judge able to punish doctors who perform abortions with the punishment of life in prison. This bill effectively illegalised abortion which was made a legal right for women in the 1973 Roe vs Wade case ruled by the Supreme Court. This new law was made solely for the purpose of overthrowing this case. Furthermore the state of Georgia signed a heartbeat bill which declares that after January 1, the bill would ban abortions after a foetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. What makes the situation worse is that the abortion still remains illegal even in cases of rape and incest.
The initial presumption that six weeks is long enough for woman to firstly realise that she is pregnant and secondly get the money and time to have an abortion is a fallacy. Around 30% of women have irregular periods therefore six weeks is not enough time to perform these procedures.
These laws could potentially force a woman to face the death penalty for having an abortion, yet if she were raped, the rapist would get less prison time than the mother, or the doctor who performed it. This concept is alien. All it does is reinforce the patriarchal ideology of men being able to take what they want. This law was voted in by men, thus raising the question ‘why are men making laws about women’s bodies?’
The pro-life argument is that these laws protect life. If this were a true statement the immigrant children at the US border would be fed, cared for and made to feel safe or alternatively gun laws would be made stricter so that the children who live in American society would not have the risk of being shot during their school day. Surely people who are pro-life should be protecting the children who are physically here and who are neglected and mistreated.
These laws were not created to preserve life, they were created as a systematic way to control women and what they do with their bodies. Instead of becoming free in 2019 women are being repressed. Margaret Atwood wrote the dystopian story of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ yet that is the direction our society is now moving in. It is just another example of a law being passed to control women yet this has been happening all over the world. In Russia it was recently made legal for a man to beat his wife as long as she is not hospitalised. This was previously illegal. In Pakistan a man’s voice has more weight in a court of law as is considered more trustworthy. These laws disprove any belief that equality exits in our society.
Things like this affect every women, they condition and normalise the notion that women are below men in every sense. By putting these bills and laws in place and condoning them, it will not be long before these views begin to be reflected by men in power and women slowly lose the small voice that they worked so hard to get. It is essential that as feminists we speak out about these issues because over time we will see the effects that these laws have. Stand up for the rights of women because without them we are left with nothing.