Leslie Marshall: Alabama law banning abortions won’t stop abortions and is wrong – Here’s why

Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey’s recent signing of legislation to give her state the toughest anti-abortion law in the nation won’t stop women and girls there from having abortions.

The law will just send women and girls to other states or to back alleys once again, making abortion more inconvenient, expensive and in some case dangerous to their health and even their lives.

As Staci Fox, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Southeast stated: "Banning abortion does not stop abortion. It stops safe abortion." If abortion is once again outlawed, inevitably some women will be seriously injured and even die from unsafe procedures performed by untrained people in substandard facilities.

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Let’s be honest. The Alabama anti-abortion law isn’t about saving unborn babies. It’s about politics, winning votes from abortion opponents, and trying to turn back the clock on the right of women to control our own bodies.

With the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, pro-lifers saw an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision making it legal to obtain an abortion everywhere in the United States.

Alabama lawmakers and Gov. Ivey are well aware that the law they enacted will be challenged in court. If a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law winds up in the Supreme Court on appeal, the Alabama elected officials hope a decision by the high court could overturn Roe v. Wade.

I am the mother of an 11-year-old girl. Would I force her to carry a baby to term if she was raped? Or the victim of incest? When she is just a child herself? I honestly do not know that I could.

Should Roe be thrown out, it would once against be up to each state to decide whether abortion should be legal within its boundaries.

Alabama joins Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Georgia in the effort to overturn Roe. Those states have all recently approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

None of these laws has yet taken effect, and courts are expected to block them from being implemented while legal challenges are heard.

The Alabama law is the most extreme. It would make performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases, unless necessary to save the mother’s life or preserve her health. There is no exception to allow abortion for pregnancies caused by rape and incest in the law.

Under the Alabama law, a doctor performing an abortion could be sentenced to 99 years in prison. That is a longer sentence than most convicted rapists get in Alabama, where the sentence for rape can be as low as 10 years. Nationally, even many murderers get lesser sentences than 99 years behind bars.

Fortunately, the Alabama law doesn’t punish women and girls for receiving an abortion.

With the passage of the Alabama law, there were cries of jubilation from staunch pro-lifers, though many abortion opponents believe the Alabama law went too far.

Pro-choice advocates were predictably outraged that primarily male lawmakers voted to dictate to Alabama women and girls what to do with their bodies.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched to the Alabama Capitol to protest the state's newly approved abortion ban, chanting "my body, my choice!" and "vote them out!"

I have many problems with Alabama’s new law against abortions, some which have nothing to do with abortion. I am concerned about the hypocrisy and the precedent this sets for the future.

And how in good conscience can lawmakers condemn some desperate women and girls to serious injury, inability to bear children in the future, and even death at the hands of back-alley butchers? Don’t these women and girls have a right to life?

Today both abortions and teen pregnancies are on the decline. And Alabama is not among the states with the highest abortion rates. The District of Columbia, New York, and New Jersey are the top three.

The biggest pushback on the new Alabama law both from the left and the right is the fact there is no exception for victims of rape and incest.

Thankfully, I was never impregnated as the victim of rape. I know that unless someone has been put in that terrible position, you have no idea what you would do. Men know they will never be victimized in this way, but women know it is a horrifying possibility for us.

I am the mother of an 11-year-old girl. Would I force her to carry a baby to term if she was raped? Or the victim of incest? When she is just a child herself? I honestly do not know that I could.

And I know that many of you who call yourself pro-life would have a difficult time with that nightmarish decision as well.  It’s easy to say you are pro-life under all circumstances. It’s quite different when one is truly faced with such a choice.

Another problem with abortion bans is that they affect minorities and low- income women disproportionately. Recent statistics show that black women are over 3.5 times more likely to have an abortion than white women, for example.

And when restrictions make abortions more expensive – such as by forcing a woman to travel to another state for the procedure – women with the lowest incomes face the greatest hardship.

This is not what the majority of Americans want. Although about half of Americans describe themselves as pro-life, many would not force that view on others. The majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose.

As for me, I would not get an abortion myself. I suffered numerous miscarriages trying to have a baby. When I was in nearly my ninth month of pregnancy with my son, who tragically had a terminal illness, my doctor recommended I terminate the pregnancy. I chose not to.

But giving birth was my choice to make. Not yours. Not the government. Not my doctor or anyone else. So while abortion was not my choice, I’m certainly am not going to make that choice for others. No one should.

Finally, I have a question for those who call themselves pro-life. How many of you in Alabama or anywhere in the United States have adopted any of the children you’re demanding women to carry to term?

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I’ve adopted one such child – my wonderful son, who is now 11.

Want to stop abortion? Prevent unwanted pregnancies. This can be done with education and birth control – not by treating women and doctors as criminals and by forcing women to become mothers.

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