Alabama: War on Women

25 White men have voted out reproductive rights of women in Alabama making abortion illegal in all cases including rape and incest. Doctors who perform the procedure could go to prison for as long as 99 years – same as rapists and murderers.

This is a war on women.

Senator Clyde Chambliss, a sponsor of the bill claimed, “When God creates the miracle of life inside a woman’s body, it is not our place to extinguish that life.”

This is 2019 America where being “pro-life” means forcing young girls who are raped by their fathers and brothers to birth, nurture and feed their own trauma. I am not sure I have ever seen a man buy even a shirt he doesn’t like. Yet, women can’t seem to avoid having unwanted children.

An abortion ban is also called a “heartbeat bill” which outlaws ending a pregnancy after six weeks. A pregnancy is not measured from when it actually begins i.e. when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but is measured from a woman’s last menstrual period. So, if you were late for two weeks after the due date –  you have missed your chance for an abortion.

Two weeks. Many women do not even realise they are pregnant in such little time.

Seema Roy, a 26 year old student in New York, says “I am often late for my periods. A year ago, I was late by around 17 days which I thought was a little weird. When I took the test, I realised I was pregnant. I was on the pill but it doesn’t always work.”

She was flying to India within a couple of weeks and had the procedure done in Delhi. “I wonder if I was in Alabama at that point, what would I have done. I didn’t even know I was pregnant and I would already have lost a chance to make a choice,” says Seema.

For Alabama’s case, it appears women are being asked to pay for the brunt of horrors like rape. To force sex upon someone is a horrifying crime. Period. To try and romanticise the idea of a baby by using terms like “heartbeat bill” not only sidelines violent crimes like rape, but mocks women for being helpless and essentially, plain murderers.

If Alabama was truly “pro-life”, why does it remain to be one of the least educated states in America? I wonder if those children who are unable to attend schools and get a better life are really God’s children after all.

Misogynistic politicians, who don’t have a uterus, appear to think of themselves as property managers of women’ bodies. They might keep pushing for an abortion to be illegal citing their pro-life agenda, but the same politicians are part of a government that has systematically cut healthcare for women and services for poverty stricken children.

The ban hurts women belonging to a lower socioeconomic strata the most. Those who have the means will be able to find services in another state or even another country. That said, money or freedom to move may not be the ultimate solution. There are women, rich or poor,  living in toxic households where patriarchy still keeps a clock on where they go, what time they come back and who they talk to.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Black and Hispanic women are more likely to get abortions. In 2014, the abortion rate for Black women was 27 for every 1,000 women of reproductive age, compared with 18 for Hispanic women and 10 for white women.

Nearly half of the women who have abortions live below the federal poverty line. Black and Hispanic women remain one of the least paid communities in America.

To force women to have a child while they deal with poverty and lack of healthcare is not only cruel to the mother but also to the future children set to born in unfavorable conditions.

When it comes to healthcare for women of colour, Alabama continues to fail. According to the World Health Report, Black women are dying at an alarming rate due to cervical cancer.  According to Human Rights Watch report, Black women are twice as likely to die due to cervical cancer than White women.

Alabama has one of the highest infant mortality rates in America. Recently, US News and World Report called Alabama one of the worst states to live in.

This is not about “pro-life”. Would the American government be willing to grant citizenship to undocumented immigrant women who are pregnant? With Trump’s MAGA campaign, that seems highly unlikely. Would miscarriages also be treated as potential murders? Well, women have been jailed for failed pregnancies, so this one is not too far from reality.

At a time when women around the world are breaking chains, from starting to drive in Saudi Arabia to winning LGBTQIA+ rights in India, Alabama is stuck in a time warp.

The appointment of sexual assault accused Brett Kavanaugh has started to show its effect and America is watching. While Trump has said he does not support the exception of rape, he is the one who appointed Kavanaugh to the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court amidst anger owing to Kavanaugh’s misogynistic approach towards women and their rights

The internet has broken on the story and one particular image that caught my eye said, “Alabama is “pro-life” unless the kids are brown, black or gay.”

It had 658 hearts. I double tapped for another one.

 

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