Alabama’s Abortion Bill

2000

My questions, unanswered, hang in the heat. I want to know why change comes hard in the Deep South, why generation after generation accept the religious precepts they are handed as if each day were not studded with evidence that their god is neither just nor caring. I want to understand why making continual excuses for a cruel and capricious deity is easier than living without one, and why a skewed omnibus written thousands of years ago is considered an instruction manual today.

At this point, humanity appears to be a failed experiment. We have not learned to co-exist or curb our numbers, and the scale of our pollution has tipped the balance of life on earth. If there were enough of us committed to saving our species, we certainly could. Our brains are up to the challenge. Scientists could develop the means and the rest of us would only have to be decent human beings. Without the wedge of religion, we might achieve this. With minds to better our world and hearts to better ourselves, what do we need with deities and dogma that only drive us apart?

Alabama legislators just passed a bill that makes abortion a Class A felony. Women in this state have been stripped of the rights to their own bodies regardless of their situation. This legislation was approved by 25 white males and one female, the state’s governor Kaye Ivey. In contrast to her Christian rhetoric on the sanctity of life, Ivey opposes gun law reform, believing that Alabamians have the right to own assault weapons.

250,000 children live in poverty in Alabama, and the state ranks 49th in infant mortality. Meanwhile, firearm mortality rates put Alabama in the country’s top percentile.

If this bill becomes law, the consequences are obvious. Welfare programs will be forced to expand. More children will become victims of abuse. Impoverished women or those fearing exposure will have babies they don’t want and are not equipped to raise. Others will seek abortions out of state, adding to the risk and cost. Reputable doctors will discontinue their services while those with more dubious skills will set up facilities in unsafe locations and charge high prices. People across the state will exist in a miasma of secrecy and dread. All because 25 men and one woman decided that a woman’s body does not belong to her.

I don’t know how Governor Ivy reconciles her religious speak with her views on private ownership of semi-automatic weapons. I don’t know how she can allow adoption agencies to discriminate against the LGBT community. And what I really don’t understand is how a woman can take away the rights of other women and consider herself a beacon of virtue.

From her desk in the state’s capitol, Governor Ivy signed a bill—much easier than looking into the face of a frightened, desperate woman and telling her that what she wants does not matter, that you have eliminated her options. If you’re going to play God you need to keep a safe distance, as far as possible from reason and accountability.

Alabama For Beginners in bioStories

A big thank you to editor Mark Leichliter for featuring my essay “Alabama For Beginners” in bioStories. This is my fourth appearance in bioStories, and I am honored to be among the many talented contributors.

“bioStories offers word portraits of the people surrounding us in our daily lives, of the strangers we pass on the street unnoticed and of those who have been the most influential and most familiar to us but who remain strangers to others. We feature essays from an eclectic variety of viewpoints and seek out writers of literary excellence. We particularly look for work that offers slices of a life that help the reader imagine the whole of that life, work that demonstrates that ordinary people’s experiences often contain extraordinary moments, visionary ideas, inspirational acts, and examples of success and failure that prove instructive. In short, we believe every life displays moments of grace. bioStories wishes to share pieces of these lives and celebrate them.”