Alabama has known shame before, deep, embedded embarrassment that lingers like a chronic disease. But nothing since the days of George Wallace and Bull Connor has shrouded Alabama with as much shame as the anti-abortion bill Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law Wednesday.
The law’s Republican supporters in the state Legislature want Alabamians to believe their motives are pure, that the sanctity of life guides their actions and their only goal is an ultimate reversal of Roe v. Wade. But those supporters by and large also are firm adherents to the death penalty -- a blood sport for conservatives who hypocritically believe you should be killed if you kill.
That’s funny, given that Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, a Republican, has repeatedly said this week that “abortion is murder.” If that’s the case, how does his party square that with the death penalty?
Ivey’s signature allows Alabama to claim the nation’s most-stringent anti-abortion law. We should bow our heads in humiliation and regret. The law criminalizes women’s bodies, women’s rights, women’s sexuality and pregnancy -- unless the woman gives birth. It’s her body, her health, her uterus, but it’s not her choice on how to proceed, Alabama has told her. She has no say.
It doesn’t matter if the woman is raped.
It doesn’t matter if the woman is impregnated by her father or brother.
Nearly all of Alabama’s Republican legislators -- state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is one of the few exceptions -- have turned women into nameless, faceless pawns of a reprehensible GOP ploy to force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe. Alabama women are being used, not protected. Dehumanized, even. President Trump -- a serial philanderer who’s been married three times and paid off porn stars after his affairs -- has flipped the Supreme Court to the right, and Alabama’s Republican lawmakers have sold their souls to this Trumpian effort to outlaw abortion in our nation. These Republicans have told women they don’t matter and that their reproductive rights have been commandeered for political gain.
Littering Alabama’s modern landscape are the remnants of our past shames. To be an Alabamian is to bear the scars, inescapable as they are.
Our state repeatedly gave George Wallace to America.
Our state beat civil rights activists who dared to ride buses.
Our state elected governors who abused their power (Guy Hunt), left in disgrace (Robert Bentley), and collected sexual partners like baseball cards (Jim Folsom).
Our state enacted HB56, a xenophobic anti-immigration law in 2011 that the courts quickly dismantled.
Our state still lives under a constitution written by Jim Crow racists whose goal was to steal the franchise from poor whites and dehumanize black Alabamians -- and protect the rich’s rights at all costs.
Our state nearly sent Roy Moore and his astonishing history of alleged sexual misconduct to Congress.
Alabama knows shame. Deep, embedded, chronic shame.
This anti-abortion bill, passed by white GOP men in the state Senate, brands Alabama Republicans as hypocritical opportunists who believe women and their rights are expendable collateral in an argument the United States’ highest court settled four decades ago. And yet, all Alabamians are guilty by association. We elected these people. We sent them to Montgomery. And we’ve let them take our state to this awful place. The shame for our beloved state is almost too much to bear.