On Wednesday, May 15, Alabama passed a law which completely outlawed abortion, with the exception of cases in which the health of the mother is extremely compromised. This law also provides no exceptions for rape or incest. Although the law has yet to be implemented, it creates a dangerous precedent which has the potential for negative and far-reaching consequences.
Although this law currently affects only Alabama, it is part of the recent trend toward lawmakers attempting to take away women’s autonomy and prohibit women from maintaining control over their own bodies, which has potentially dangerous consequences for women everywhere.
Whether or not you agree with the idea of abortion itself, the fact that women would no longer have the power to make individual choices about their bodies is extremely disturbing and has significant and far-reaching impacts for people of all genders. While people will often debate whether or not life begins at conception, this is an entirely separate matter. This recent ruling puts women’s rights in jeopardy, and therefore it is something we should all be concerned about.
By criminalizing a medical decision which is supposed to be made in confidence between a woman and her doctor, the state threatens the fundamental right to privacy which is implied in the Bill of Rights and has provided the foundation for several Supreme Court cases, including the legalization of same-sex marriage.
This threat to privacy also has an impact on college students, as this is the first time in which many of us are required to make decisions about our health and medical care without parental guidance. The idea that the government can impose restrictions on private medical matters is challenging and potentially dangerous for young adults who might not have experience in making medical decisions.
Additionally, the fact that the law disregards those who have experienced rape or another form of assault is extremely dangerous, especially for those who identify as survivors. The idea that someone who has been a victim of a violent crime is not able to make a choice about her own body perpetuates victim-blaming and neglects the reality that rape is a heinous crime with devastating impact on survivors.
Although people normally refrain from talking about abortion, which is understandable considering the divisive and emotionally-charged nature of the topic, the reality is that in the United States, approximately one in four women will receive an abortion before age 45. Even if you have not been personally affected by abortion, it is likely that someone you know has.
Because of this, we should try to create more of an open and inclusive dialogue around abortion rather than minimizing the issue or failing to acknowledge the many groups of people who are affected by the new abortion law, both directly or indirectly. Whether you are “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” we are all impacted when the government restricts individual privacy, and each of us plays a critical role in making our voices heard. We should strive to create a more open dialogue surrounding abortion while taking an active role in speaking up and fighting injustice.