Last night, the Alabama Senate voted to approve a sweeping new law that would ban all abortions. This bill, which is expected to be signed into law shortly, would be the most direct and frightening challenge to Roe v. Wade in recent memory.
The law is clear and disturbing in its simplicity. The New York Times writes:
The legislation bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the mother’s life is at serious risk, but not for cases of rape or incest — a subject of fierce debate among lawmakers in recent days.
As the organization Data for Progress points out, this new law doesn’t even follow the will of the Alabaman electorate. Support for abortion bans around the country remains exceptionally low, except, it seems, with old, usually male politicians.
There is no state in the country where support for banning abortion reaches even 25 percent. (Data for Progress analysis of the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies) pic.twitter.com/lrOxU0eNaz
— Data for Progress (@DataProgress) May 15, 2019
Activists and lawmakers are already responding. Elizabeth Warren tweeted that the ban was “dangerous and exceptionally cruel.” Kamala Harris wrote that it would “criminalize doctors for doing their jobs.”
While people wait to see whether Governor Kay Ivey will veto it (she most likely won’t), there are some local organizations people have begun highlighting.
- The Alabama Women’s Center is the only provider of abortions in Northern Alabama. In a written statement, the organization’s medical director, Yashica Robinson, said the the center “will continue to provide quality healthcare services for women and families.” You can donate to the organization here.
- There’s also the Yellowhammer Fund, which provides financial help to anyone in Alabama seeking care from an Alabama abortion clinic. It is a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds. You can donate to Yellowhammer here.
- While there are already few clinics and organizations providing for Alabama specifically, the NNAF points out that there are a bunch of funds set up specifically for women in southern states.
— NNAF Abortion Funds (@AbortionFunds) May 15, 2019
- Many people are rightfully furious right now, but it’s important to know where to direct this anger. Telling women in Alabama to simply move isn’t going to help the situation, activists point out, nor is any other sort of victim blaming:
Things we’re going to do:
-Donate to @YellowFund
-Call our local clinic to volunteer as a clinic escort
Things we’re not going to do:
-Tell pregnant people in Alabama to “move”
-Dismiss Alabamians as “getting what they voted for”
Your rights do not depend on your zip code.
— Lauren Rankin (@laurenarankin) May 15, 2019
- Alabama has a long history of voter suppression, which is certainly one of the reasons this measure passed. As the Brennan Center for Justice writes, the state employs extremely strict voter registration law, has gerrymandered many of its districts to reduce the electoral voice of black citizens, and has been known to close polling stations without notice. If you want to learn more about this, or aid in the fight to re-enfranchise Alabama voters, you can get in touch with the Alabama Voting Rights Project.
While this development is certainly a big setback, activists maintain that the fight for women’s rights must go on. What people can do now is donate to the organizations of their choice as well as learn about the systemic failures that led to where we are.