This week, I was looking for something to watch on Netflix (like you do) and I came across the documentary MissRepresentation. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a documentary from 2011 that discusses the portrayal of women in media and society affects women’s influence and power in areas such as politics (There are some questions I have about the sources of the statistics in the documentary, but it definitely was an interesting watch). After watching MissRepresentation, I wanted to consume more feminist type content, so I read Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Book Review coming soon).
Vivian Carter, who is tired of her school valuing the football team over other students, tired of sexist dress codes, starts a movement called Moxie to fight against these issues. Moxie discusses a lot of feminist issues (as well as racial issues within the feminist movement; more on that when I write my review), which after this week with the abortion laws passing in Alabama, is more relevant than ever.
I’m going to start off by saying I don’t believe the government should be legislating what a women does with her body. It’s one thing if they’re working on making procedures safer for the women receiving abortions, but another thing to tell a women that they cannot have an abortion based on the beliefs of a certain group (especially as the states passing these laws aren’t even making exceptions for rape victims or incest). Also, if we had better sex education in schools concerning the importance of safe sex (and abstinence is of course always a choice, but it’s not the only choice), there could be more of an impact on decreasing the amount of abortions in the country, if that is the main concern. However, it gets to a certain point where the debate on abortion seems to be less about being “pro-life” and more about controlling what a woman can do with her body.
In short terms, if you don’t want an abortion or believe that they are wrong, don’t get one.
Now that you know where I stand, let’s return to the main topic of this piece.
This May, both Georgia and Alabama passed laws concerning restrictions on abortions. Earlier this month, Georgia passed the “heart beat” bill, meaning that once a fetus has a heartbeat, it is illegal to perform an abortion, unless the mother’s life is at risk. In Georgia, if an abortion is performed, the person who performs the abortion can face up to 10 years in prison. One of the main problems that is being brought up with the heart beat bill, is the fact that a fetal heart beat can be felt as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, which at this point, a lot of mother’s don’t realize that they are even pregnant yet. Alabama’s new law is even more strict, in that abortions are banned in all instances, except for in the case of the pregnancy being a danger to the mother or the fetus.
Before I go any further with this, I want to note that the government of Alabama realizes that this legislation is currently unenforceable under our current laws.
However, Alabama is also straight forward about what they want to accomplish with this bill. According to state representative Terri Collins (R) (one of the sponsors of the legislation),
“This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn, because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection.” (Cillizza).
Alabama and Georgia aren’t the only two states passing more restricting legislation on abortion. In this year alone, at least three other states besides Georgia (Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi) have passed fetal heartbeat bills, while Utah and Arkansas have passed bills restricting abortions to the middle of the second trimester, or around eighteen weeks. In most areas, abortions aren’t performed after twenty four weeks in pregnancy, or the end of the second trimester (unless it is a danger to the mother or fetus).
With the current U.S. Supreme Court having five conservative judges and only four liberal judges, anti-abortion activists are more persistent in overturning Roe v. Wade. As Alabama Governor wrote in her statement concerning the new abortion law,
“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,” Ivey wrote. “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.” (Kelly).
So the question is, now what do we do?
One of the most beneficial things you can do is to educate yourself on abortion, and learn why the other side believes what they do. It’s easier to debate and have discourse on a topic when you know what your opponents arguing points are, and know how to counter against them. It’s also important to remember that although there are a lot of men who are passing these laws, there are just as many women doing the same. This is easy to forget about it with some of the current discourse happening; I know on Twitter, I’ve seen many posts with the pictures of all the white men who are supporting this bill. And, it’s true that that is a sad reality, but it’s even sadder when you remember the the governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, and one of the sponsors of the bill is Terri Collins (also a woman, in case you weren’t aware). Essentially, men aren’t the only ones supporting this bill, and that needs to be kept in mind when you are doing your research.
The second thing is to keep the conversation going, and let your voice be heard. Talk about it on social media, write letters or emails or make calls to your government representatives. If there are marches or protests, don’t hesitate about participating in them if that’s what you want to do.
Finally, if you’re in the financial state to do so, you can donate to organizations who fighting against it, keep up to date about any sort of events they hold, and support them any way that you can. For more information on organizations that you can support, and what else you can do, visit: https://www.thecut.com/2019/05/how-to-help-alabama-6-week-abortion-ban-georgia.html
That’s all I have for this week everybody. Thank you for reading, and I hope you all have a lovely weekend.
Sources and articles for further research:
Cillizza, C. (2019, May 15). What the Alabama abortion law really aims to do. Retrieved May 16, 2019, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/15/politics/alabama-abortion-law-roe-v-wade/index.html
Kelly, C. (2019, May 15). Alabama governor signs nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion bill into law. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/15/politics/alabama-governor-signs-bill/index.html
North, A., & Kim, C. (2019, May 09). The “heartbeat” bills that could ban almost all abortions, explained. Retrieved May 16, 2019, from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/4/19/18412384/georgia-abortion-heartbeat-bill-ohio-2019-iowa
Parenthood, P. (2018, April 26). How far along can you be to get an abortion? Retrieved May 17, 2019, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/ask-experts/how-far-along-can-you-be-to-get-an-abortion
Where abortion restriction stands: The states that have passed laws. (2019, May 16). Retrieved May 16, 2019, from https://www.axios.com/abortion-restriction-states-passed-laws-8326c9aa-6631-4bd1-b02b-c6ba6cd0a335.html
Wright, J. (2019, May 15). Women Who Miscarry Could Be Criminally Investigated Under Georgia’s New Abortion Law. Retrieved May 16, 2019, from https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a27454956/what-does-georgias-abortion-law-mean-women-who-miscarry/