It’s been a turbulent week for women’s rights. The governors in Alabama, USA, have changed the laws around abortion. While Alabama is not the first American State to ban abortion, this week’s development is the most restrictive. But what exactly does the ruling mean?
On Tuesday (15/05), the Republican-controlled Alabama State Senate voted on the Alabama Human Life Protection Act.
The bill was passed with 25 votes to 6.
Alabama governor, Kay Ivey, then signed the abortion legislation into law.
Vivian Davies Figures, a state senator in Alabama said:
“You don’t have to raise that child. You don’t have to carry that child. You don’t have to provide for that child. You don’t have to do anything for that child, but yet you want to make the decision for that woman.”
What does it mean?
The new bill means that in an estimated six months, when it comes into power, it will be a crime to perform an abortion at any stage of a pregnancy.
Women will not be punishable for having an abortion but the doctors who perform them will be punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison.
Despite the fact other states such as Kentucky and Arkansas have banned abortion, human rights activists have described the ruling in Alabama as the strictest law in the US.
If there’s a ‘serious health risk’ to the pregnant mother, an abortion can be authorised. However, there is no exception for rape or incest.
In effect, what Alabama’s ruling does is overturn Roe v Wade – the landmark ruling that legalised abortion across America in 1973.
Why has this happened?
The Republican State senator, Clyde Chambliss said:
“Human life has rights, and when someone takes those rights, that’s when we as a government have to step in. When God creates that life, that miracle of life inside the women’s woman, it’s not our place as humans to extinguish that life. That’s what we believe.”
According to The Guardian, this bill contributes to a trend across America to restrict the reproductive rights of women.
Read more here
How have people reacted?
This week’s development has triggered a debate on a global platform with some of the world’s biggest politicians and campaigners coming forward to condemn the news.
In a tweet, Hillary Clinton described the bill as ‘an attack’ on women.’
Campaigners and members of the public have also taken to social media to express anger and concern.
Planned parenthood spokeswoman, Barbara Ann Luttrell says:
“We will see Governor Ivey in court. We have not lost a case in Alabama and look forward to the same outcome.”
The bill is set to come into action within the next six months. In the meantime, however, campaigners have vowed to fight the ruling.
Stacy Fox, president of Planned Parenthood Southeast says:
“To the Alabama politicians that voted for this bill, our message is this: you will forever live in infamy for this vote. And Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates will make sure every woman knows who to hold accountable.”
Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, has vowed to challenge the Alabama bill.
Journalists suggest the bill will be challenged in court.