On Tuesday, Alabamians kept Gov. Kay Ivey in place, ignored Democrats’ effort to return two-party politics to our state and re-elected a slew of Republicans who’ll retain Alabama’s deep red tint. But those results may pale when compared to the passage of Amendment 2.
Sponsored by state Rep. Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo, Amendment 2 says it is the policy of the state to “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.” Because abortion is legal nationwide under the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, the amendment — which passed with 59 percent of the votes — changes nothing, for now. Abortion remains legal today in Alabama.
But if Roe is overturned amid President Trump’s remaking of the Supreme Court, Amendment 2 will allow conservative lawmakers to essentially turn Alabama into an abortion-free state without any exceptions, even if a pregnancy endangers a woman’s life. No exceptions would potentially mean no exceptions, a full-scale attack of abortion inserted into the state’s bloated Constitution.
Put bluntly, Amendment 2 is a repugnant assault on women’s health and their right to make decisions about their own bodies.
Kelly Krause, a spokeswoman for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told CNN that Amendment 2 “sets the stage for Alabama to criminalize abortion without exception should Roe be overturned … This measure could have far-reaching consequences for contraception and in-vitro-fertilization as well. For example, emergency contraception like Plan B could be banned and couples undergoing fertility treatments could be forced to pay for the upkeep of their frozen embryos forever.”
Emma Sarappo, a writer for Pacific Standard magazine, wrote this week that Amendment 2’s language “tips toward fetal personhood, a legal doctrine that’s been used to criminalize the actions of pregnant people — whether that’s taking drugs or refusing medical interventions.”
Brandi Shah, a family medicine physician in Alabama and a faculty member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, told CNN the amendment was a “back-door ban” against abortion that sets up an awful scenario for women and their health care in our state. “In Alabama, at a state level, a person’s right to health care — in this case abortion — has been lost,” she said. “The right to make life-changing decisions about pregnancy has been taken away from pregnant people even in extenuating cases of rape, incest, or risk to the life of a woman.”
No exceptions, indeed.
In America, abortion is the ultimate divider: in politics, among religions, among races, among the young and old, even among regions. Roe’s passage more than 40 years ago didn’t slow those arguments, and today’s Republican Party has made overturning that ruling a coveted goal. Meanwhile, Alabama has become the American example of what may happen to women’s rights when a political crusade masquerading as a moral campaign is codified into law.