Alya Mehrtash staff writer
Let it be clear that the new abortion law in Alabama is a declaration of war against women and our rights as individuals.
The Alabama state legislature recently passed the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, also commonly referred to as a heartbeat bill, enacted by governor Kay Ivey the following day. This country’s most restrictive abortion law outlawed abortion after the six-week mark, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Doctors who perform abortions can be sentenced up to 99 years in prison. If not filibustered in court, the law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
This bill is absolutely absurd. The Alabama state senate is primarily comprised of men–31 out of 35 senators are men to be exact. Why are these men allowed to make such important decisions about what a woman chooses to do with her own body? They have never and will never have to deal with all the baggage that comes with pregnancy; while having a child can be a beautiful thing, pregnancy itself is anything but an easy process. And yet they are forcing women of all ages, even those who do not wish to conceive, to carry out a pregnancy to term.
Let’s present a hypothetical situation. A 12-year-old girl in Alabama is raped and impregnated by a total stranger. By the time she finds out that she’s pregnant, it has already passed the six-week mark. Because of Alabama state law, this young girl will now have to endure a full pregnancy and deliver a baby. This may seem unthinkable to many, as it should be. No 12-year-old should be forced to deliver a child on her own.
The six-week limitation implemented in this bill is also preposterous, as most women don’t even know by that point that they’re pregnant yet. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), most women find out that they’re pregnant around the fourth to seventh week of their pregnancy. The six week mark is only two weeks late on a period, which is common especially among women with irregular periods. Many younger girls also may not be fully educated about what being late on her period could mean, and thus wouldn’t find out about pregnancy until it’s too late to legally obtain an abortion. This would make it even more difficult for women to legally terminate pregnancies, because by the time they become aware, it’s very possible that they won’t even have the choice anymore.
It’s also notable to mention that abortion is often a burdensome decision to make. Many women have a difficult time choosing to abort their unborn child. According to the APA, “Emotional and psychological effects following abortion are more common than physical side effects and can range from mild regret to more serious complications such as depression.” It’s not like having an abortion is just a walk in the park. Women reap psychological and emotional consequences; therefore, many times it is a hard decision that they have to make.
The elected officials supporting this ban refer to themselves as “pro-life,” but it’s legislation like this that makes us ask the question: Are they really “pro-life” or simply “pro-control?” If one was truly “pro-life,” they would not force women to undergo such a long, tolling process if they don’t want to do so. By forcing women to carry out their pregnancy, these legislators are ruining the lives of these women, and that of many of their unborn children. “Pro-life” government officials claim that they’re saving these unborn kids, but if born, many of these children would end up in the broken American foster system. According to a study conducted by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, 23,439 American children aged out of the foster system in 2012, less than 3 percent of which will earn a college degree. The study also showed that 71 percent of the women in this group will become pregnant by the age of 21. Many of the women being forced to undergo pregnancies as a result of this new heartbeat bill will not be able to support their child once they are born and will have to put their child into a defective foster system. Therefore, referring to these legislators as “pro-life” is total hypocrisy, considering the fact that they don’t support these lives once they are born, as well as the lives of the women who must undergo the pregnancy. In fact, the Alabama state legislature refused to look into amendments to the bill that would provide health care to those who were denied abortions as a result of the new law.
Unfortunately, Alabama is not the only state to have passed such absurd legislation. States such as Ohio and Georgia also show the terrifying trend of elected officials forcing their “pro-life” beliefs on their constituents.
Living in California, we are not directly affected by this bill. Nevertheless, we must stand up against such heinous legislation. The most effective way to do so is to financially support organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood, that are taking legal action against this bill. Such legislation clearly demonstrates that our country is headed down the wrong path, and it is up to us as constituents to stop it.
Simply put, abortion should be a woman’s own decision to make, not that of a group of powerful men who abuse their position to force their beliefs on others.