Field work Journalism

Reality Check: Alabama’s abortion ban is the conservative’s pandora’s box opened to setback on women’s rights

Photo by Charles Edward Miller – Protesting Trump’s Imposition of the So-Called Gag Rule on Women’s Healthcare Providers Chicago Illinois, may 2018. 

I’m writing this piece in order to react simply, to make visible for someone visiting my website an information that is not new anymore but which is of great importance.  Today is May 15th, 2019, 46 years after the Roe.V.Wade lawsuit that allowed women to access to abortions legally in all of the U.S territory. 

This is a long piece in english but I think it is worth reading through. What is going on in the US right now is indicative of what could happen in Canada or in any territory where right-wing populist politicians are elected, this is a risk and a reality that we cannot blindly put in the ground :

This morning, in a closed room in the Alabama Senate, the majority voted to implement an abortion law to be signed in a few days and applicable in about six months. Specifically, as the New York Times states it, this ban forbids any kind of abortion and criminalizes doctors’ intervention. 

CNN politics reported this morning that  « The law only allows exceptions « to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother, » for ectopic pregnancy and if the « unborn child has a lethal anomaly. » Democrats re-introduced an amendment to exempt rape and incest victims, but the motion failed on an 11-21 vote. »

The harsh reality of this motion opening up discrimination between women who’ll be able to access to this restrictive abortions and those would will not be able to is what comes to my mind immediately. It also makes me want to remember what is means to circumscribe women’s bodily autonomy in terms that are nowhere close to their reaal interest.

As shows this study published in the Reviews of Obstretics and Gynecology in 2009, in an article written by Lisa B Haddad, MD, MA, Clinical Fellow in Obstetrics* and Nawal M Nour, MD, MPH† « Every year, worldwide, about 42 million women with unintended pregnancies choose abortion, and nearly half of these procedures, 20 million, are unsafe. Some 68,000 women die of unsafe abortion annually, making it one of the leading causes of maternal mortality (13%). »

Moreover, in a more international standpoint, we usually forgot how easy it is to hide numbers behind interpretation, especially in established systems of power such as the one in place in the United states. On that poiny, Lisa B Haddad and Nawal M Nour give us some more input : « Worldwide, some 5 million women are hospitalized each year for treatment of abortion-related complications such as hemorrhage and sepsis, and abortion-related deaths leave 220,000 children motherless. The main causes of death from unsafe abortion are hemorrhage, infection, sepsis, genital trauma, and necrotic bowel. Data on nonfatal long-term health complications are poor, but those documented include poor wound healing, infertility, consequences of internal organ injury (urinary and stool incontinence from vesicovaginal or rectovaginal fistulas), and bowel resections. Other unmeasurable consequences of unsafe abortion include loss of productivity and psychologic damage.« 

I looked up the Alabama State Statistics in order to understand better the facts and the consequences on such a retreat on public health  and on women’s rights :

Alabama :4,874,747 humans in 2017
Alabama’s Estimated Pregnancies in 2017 : 5,922
Alabama’s Induced Terminations of Pregnancy 6,768 :  This makes no sense, official numbers from the Alabama State statistics department are contradicting the realities occuring right now on this territories. 

According to the Alabama official health report on Induced termination of pregnancy for the year 2017, the total number of abortions were of 6768, most of these after the six-weeks limit that could even be cancelled if this new bill is signed next week. More precisely, 78% of these abortions were done from six weeks to 25 weeks, showing how unrealistic and dangerous refusing access to this care actually is.

Ms. Magazine article « More Voters Support Abortion Rights Under Roe v. Wade Than Ever «  by 

Where are all these women going to go ? Stuck between Mississipi, Tenessee and Georgia where one of the strictest bill against abortions has just been voted, Alabamian women and women of color will have to either go back to illegal (and unsafe) abortions or be forced to travel out  of state in order to get the care they deserve, probably financially putting themselves in another form of precarity. In this state in 2015, 18,5% of women live under the poverty line according to the United States Census’ Bureau. Even more alarming, children’s poverty overall in the state is numbered at 23,4% of the population  under 18. Related to the issue of reproductive rights, this matter is worrying for the future generation who are actually born in an era where abortion in Alabama is about to become illegal again. 

Here you can read stories of women in Alabama who went to Planned Parenthood and faced either rejection from their families, marginalization and psychological and physical violence because of their decision not to engage in pregnancy or maternity.

Even if the number of legal abortions in Alabama has been lowering since 2006 going from 11,654 to 5,899 in 2017,  the question of access to insurance (MEDICAID or Else) as well as contraceptive care is essential, What are women going to do when they cannot pay for the pill or an IUD or any other kind of contraception? In Alabama, black women and hispanic women have a way lower rate of access to health insurance, putting them in situations where they’ll risk their lives, safety and dignity if they wish to abort a fetus.

Watch here the documentary « Grassroots, an emerging women’s movement » highlighting the solidarity and energy at force right now in this overly conservative state :

Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, director of Planned Parenthood state media campaigns  reacted to these horrific news this morning to a CNN reporter (you can listen to her here :…/planned-parenthood-under-trump-adm…)

« Planned Parenthood executive warns the future is dangerous for women’s health rights under Trump (…) We have a President of the United States who willfully lies to the American people to score political points and to provide political cover for politicians who are passing extreme anti-women’s bills. With Trump in the White House and (Brett) Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court women’s health and rights are under assault like never before,”

As I am writing this text from Montreal Canada, I realize how crazy it is, in 2019, that I am actually writing this. It is enraging, frustrating, saddening, harmful. News like this demand a great deal of acceptance and fury not to go down with a kind of pessimism that would be natural honnestly. We need not to forget that women of our families far or close already fought for this. In the US, the Roe.V.Wade lawsuit in 1973 anchored the right to choose and is now put back in question by frightened men in power. Please, to all fighters here, don’t lose hope and keep fighting. 

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