[Anti-abortion laws] are tools by the ruling class to control and subordinate the lower classes.
You may have heard about the new abortion bills that were signed into law in Alabama and Georgia, known as HB 314 and HB 481 respectively. Both of these bills went through the legislative process in their respective states and they were incorporated as state laws. For those who live in these states an are worried about their access to abortions, it is important to note that the laws won’t go into effect until much later. HB 314 will be enforced starting from November of 2019 and HB 481 will be enforced in January of 2020. If you live in Alabama or Georgia, you can still get an abortion at this time.
There are numerous claims making the rounds on social media and in the press. We’re going to clear this up by listing a few facts:
HB 314 aims to criminalize almost all abortions and HB 481 is a “fetal heartbeat bills.” The Georgia bill basically says you can’t perform an abortion on a developing fetus if you detect a heartbeat. This limits abortions to 6 weeks post-fertilization, the stage of development when you can hear a fetal heartbeat. This is problematic for a number of reasons, because many women can’t tell if they’re pregnant at 6 weeks and most genetic screening tests are useless until 9 weeks post-fertilization. The Alabama bill is an all-out criminalizing and banning of abortions.
We know for sure that medical personnel who carry out abortions will be criminalized. Lawmakers are still dubious about the harshness of both bills. In both bills, a person who performs an abortion can be penalized, so we know that doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals will be held liable for carrying out procedure. Unfortunately, the status of women who induce abortions themselves or who miscarry intentionally is much more vague. The definitions for the word “abortion” in both bills are so broad that their nuances must be hashed out in the judicial system.
HB 314 is harsher than HB 481. The Georgia law makes exceptions for rape and incest, but the Alabama bill has no such clause. Interestingly, when Democrats in the Alabama state house of representatives suggested the rape and incest exception, almost every single Republican said no.
In the midst of all the anger and confusion over these two bills, we can’t forget what they will mean for Georgians, Alabamians, and Americans overall. There has been a lot of talk over how men, particularly white men, have systemic power over women’s bodies. While this is an important idea, we should not forget that it was a white woman who introduced HB 314 and a white woman who signed it into law. Georgia Right to Life, the largest anti-abortion organization in the state that supported HB 481, was founded by a white woman and her husband. For years, white women and wealthy women of color have been the foot soldiers of the anti-abortion movement.
Black, queer, and low income people will be disproportionately affected by anti-choice laws in these states, because these groups are more likely to access abortion services. It is known that the legality of abortion will not stop people from getting them. Rather, as abortion access is restricted, it forces people to find unsafe medical alternatives, like self-administering abortifacients or performing abortion procedures on themselves. Moreover, wealthy women will always have access to safe abortions, regardless of the legality, because they have the time, money and resources to travel and bribe doctors who can help them. Every time anti-abortion legislation is imposed, there is always a spike in deaths and injuries from botched abortions. There is a plethora of negative social consequences from forcing people to give birth to children they are unable or unwilling to raise.
Interestingly, Rep. Terri Collins, the woman who wrote HB 314, has stated that she purposely made the bill harsh. That way, people and organizations, like the ACLU, contest the bill and force it through the judicial system. Finally, when HB 314 reaches the Supreme Court, it can be used to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that legalized abortions in America. And with a conservative Supreme Court, such a thing is within the realm of possibility. In her quest to push for a political agenda, Rep. Collins, has put the health and welfare of countless Alabamians in jeopardy.
It is no surprise that white women would willingly harm and disenfranchise black people. White women make up the majority of the Republican party’s female base. They consistently vote for candidates who push for racist, misogynist, homophobic and xenophobic agendas. Anti-abortion laws aren’t just about “men vs. women;” they are tools by the ruling class to control and subordinate the lower classes. It is always the poor and disenfranchised people who suffer the brunt of these laws. We cannot forget the complicity of white women’s roles in pushing these laws.
Many HB 314 and HB 481 advocates claim that these bills protect women and children, when they do the complete opposite. Both Alabama and Georgia have large Black populations. Georgia has the worst maternal mortality rate in the country and African-American women have the most likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth. Denying health care services, like abortion access, hurts Black women in the long run. The same politicians who proclaim to help women and children with anti-abortion laws rarely push for increased funding for social services and better healthcare reform.
At the end of the day, denying access to safe abortions takes away people’s agency to make decisions for themselves. It forces them to conform to predetermined notions of sexuality and gender roles. Pregnancy is a beautiful, intense and important thing. It forces the parent into a state of weakness that takes immense determination and grit to overcome. Bringing a new life into the world is a very personal decision that the state should not have control over. Roe v. Wade affirmed a person’s right to privacy from the government influencing their decision to have an abortion. In the coming months, this case will have more and more attacks. It is up to us to protect Roe v. Wade, which gave so many people access to safe abortions.
As we write this article, the Missouri state legislature passed HB 126, a bill banning abortions after 8 weeks post-fertilization. Inaction is dangerous. This is the time to do something. Here are some ways you can get involved in the abortion discussion:
Volunteer. The few remaining reproductive clinics are under attack now more than ever. They need all the support they can get. Donate your time and money to them, because they are the safest places to get an abortion and they offer a plethora of other reproductive services like IUD insertions and contraceptive prescriptions. You can find your local clinic by looking through the National Abortion Federation directory or through Planned Parenthood’s network.
Donate. Give back to your local Planned Parenthood clinic by clicking here. We need to make sure they have the resources to continue providing for men, women, nonbinary people, and transgender people. Also, donate to pro-choice organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice America and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They do great work in fighting anti-abortion legislation and raising awareness. Also, your donations are tax-deductible!
Call your representatives. Senators, representatives, and governors are good places to start, but don’t forget your local state legislators. Laws that are passed in state legislators are the most likely to affect you. You can find your state representative and state senator here. They represent you in Congress and help pass federal laws that impact the entire country. You can find your local representatives here. They represent you in your state legislature and pass state-wide laws. Write to them, call them, or @ them on social media. Tell them how you feel. Let them know that they are making a mistake with anti-abortion laws.
Support pro-choice candidates. A number of local and federal elections will happen in the upcoming years. Register to vote and read up on your candidates’ platforms on abortion. The presidential elections will begin with the primary elections, which start in February of 2020. The presidential election will be in November of that year. It is crucial for people to begin registering now. Large societal changes don’t happen overnight, but only when we work at them one step at a time. The things you do today may seem insignificant, but they will have a resounding impact for future generations. Vote well, friends.
Marina Ali is a student, writer, poet, and blue lipstick enthusiast. She is a staff writer for Brown Girl Magazine, the features editor for Drunk Magazine, and the social media manager for TMO Media. When she’s not writing or studying for classes, you can find her picnicking in pastoral East Texas, crafting for her sorority sisters, or making food.