State lawmakers leading Alabama’s latest crusade against legal abortions want us to believe their effort is about preserving life, at all costs, in virtually all situations. Life over women’s reproductive rights, we might add. But that’s not the whole story.
The crusade is about President Trump.
Namely, it’s about the ramifications, both short- and long-term, of Trump’s first two years in the Oval Office. These years have roiled our nation’s conduct, damaged our international standing, branded us a people open to blatant xenophobia and racism, degraded the decorum of our politics and, simply, divided us to extreme levels.
But for Republicans who welcome a tectonic shift to America’s right, Trump’s first two years have raised hopes that the Supreme Court and its lower-court colleagues are now potential allies.
Congressional Republicans’ blocking of Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination in the latter days of Barack Obama’s presidency set the tone. Since then, the Trump administration has placed conservatives Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, tilting the John Roberts-led court to the right. That is the door Alabama Republicans are trying to exploit.
The anti-abortion bill debated and voted on in the Statehouse this week is abominable legislation in every sense of the phrase. If it becomes law, pregnant women would have virtually no say about their bodies or health care. Abortion doctors would face imprisonment. Women who are raped or become pregnant through incest would have no choice but to have the baby. Don’t think the two exceptions — if the pregnancy endangers the woman’s survival, or if the fetus has a “lethal anomaly” — wouldn’t get politicized into extinction.
And, this: the “Human Life Protection Act,” as it’s called, compares legal abortions to the Soviet Union’s Stalinistic purges, Hitler’s World War II concentration camps and the Rwandan genocide. Such hyperbole is classic Trumpian language, fire and brimstone and lies, indefensible words meant to inflame, a political method that values winning over ethics, decorum and truth.
At least the legislation’s House sponsor, state Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, is embracing a version of honesty. This isn’t merely about limiting abortion rights in our state, she’s said. It’s about birthing litigation that would lead to the Trump-realigned Supreme Court overturning 1973’s Roe v. Wade.
Never mind that courts have almost universally struck down “fetal heartbeat” bills in other states.
Never mind that Alabama already bans abortions after 20 weeks unless the pregnancy is a health risk to the woman.
Never mind that the number of legal abortions in the United States has been steadily declining since a peak of 1.6 million in 1990. It’s now roughly half of that.
Never mind that banning abortions will not stop abortions. History proves that.
Overturning Roe would feather Republicans’ caps and soothe them on Sunday mornings, but it won’t stop women from seeking abortions, either legally in other countries or illegally in ours. It is their choice. It is their bodies, their health. Roe is the law of the land, and it should remain so.