by Marina Flores
On Wednesday, May 15, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed an anti-abortion bill in challenge of Woe v. Wade. This bill, the “Alabama Human Life Protection Act,” was signed late on Tuesday night with a vote of 25-6. In addition to punishment for doctors who perform abortions with life-sentences in prison, this bill disregards the fact whether the pregnant woman was a victim of rape or incest. This bill is a direct and unlawful attack on women’s reproductive rights, especially the rights of women of color and those without adequate access to healthcare. This unconstitutional law forces a woman to carry the fetus full-term, no matter the circumstances and can convict doctors who perform abortions as felons. Lawmakers are passing more and more bills that are sexist and anti-woman; therefore, a woman could receive a harsher punishment for an abortion—or a life prison sentence of up to 99 years—than a rapist.
Likewise, on Thursday, May 16, the Republican and male-led Missouri Senate met to pass their own anti-abortion bill, 24-0, that bans abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest, but rather only for medical emergencies. Doctors who perform abortions after the eight-week cut-off could face up to 15 years in prison. On Tuesday night, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also signed another anti-abortion bill. This “fetal heartbeat bill,” voted 24-10, restricts abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected—as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, the earliest that a fetal heartbeat can be detected—and at a time when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant.
Women’s bodily autonomies and lives now rest in the hands of male lawmakers. Moreover, feminism exists for this reason: not to hate men or be anti-men, but because women still face difficulties claiming their rights. Now that more states aim to chip away at overturning women’s reproductive rights and challenging Roe v. Wade, the time to act is now. Allies of women, here’s five ways to help turn anger or frustration into action:
Help fundraise or donate to independent and local grassroots organizations. Here are some organizations currently accepting donations that directly fund reproductive care:
A. Abortion Care Network
B. National Network of Abortion Funds
C. Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama
D. Access-Reproductive Care-Southeast, Inc. in Georgia
F. Act Blue
Volunteer as a clinic escort. Pro-life protesters at women’s clinics are sometimes violent and chaotic. Patients at these clinics need safe entry and exit into buildings, and that means more clinic escorts are needed. Find out more information about being a clinic escort here:
Vote in upcoming local/state elections or register as a new voter. Voting rules in the United States differ in every state, but www.USA.gov explains eligibility, deadlines, and registration processes. Voting is a fundamental right, and every registered voter can weigh in on who they’d like (or incumbents they do not like) to represent their city, state, or Congress. Please check local listings for upcoming elections and election sites such as those for mayor, governor, or Congress. Research each candidate carefully. Elect more women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ representatives to remove incumbents from their seats. The 2020 United States presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. 537 days to go.
Write letters to legislators or senators in each state to oppose attacks on anti-abortion laws or restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. More states will follow in the footsteps of Alabama, Missouri, and Georgia. Each of the following has politicians and officials who voted to pass bills that outlaw abortion:
H. North Dakota
Get involved and join the conversation. Attend local rallies and volunteer at organizations that benefit women and reproductive rights. Montgomery, Alabama is holding a public “March for Reproductive Freedom” at Court Square Fountain on Sunday, May 19 at 4:00 p.m. In addition, social media is a great place to uncover the latest news updates on anti-abortion laws, minute-by-minute, and help carve out a place for women to share personal experiences about abortion. Trending hashtags such as #AbortionIsAWomansRight, #MyBodyMyChoice, and #YouKnowMe makes following the latest conversations much easier. Join the movement and become an ally for women everywhere.
Lawmakers have made terminating pregnancies more difficult than ever. Banning abortion won’t stop women from seeking means of abortion, but rather force them to resort to unsafe and more dangerous methods available in other states and countries. These new laws violate every woman’s bodily autonomy, and lives won’t be saved through suffocating legislation. Illegal abortions will still be performed, and, as a result, more women will continue to die from unwanted pregnancies. Reproductive rights are under attack, and these issues rise far above party politics, so it’s critical that men and allies take a stance for the greater protection of women’s bodily autonomies. Take a stand now.
Marina Flores is a feminist scholar who holds her MA in Literature, Creative Writing and Social Justice from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. She aspires to pursue a career in digital journalism and land some of her essays in feminist journals or magazines. Marina can be found somewhere with her doxie, Simba, or sipping on a cup of iced coffee.