In a move on individual reproductive rights that feels eerily similar to the plot of
The Handmaid's Tale, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed HB314, a bill that would make performing an abortion a felony in all cases except for when carrying a baby endangers a person's life. If it's not blocked by legal challenges, the Alabama abortion bill would become law in six months, the Associated Press reported. Reproductive rights organizations across the country immediately sprang into action to denounce the bill, which followed the heels of a Georgia "heartbeat" bill banning abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
Gov. Ivey released a statement where she called "
every life a sacred gift from God" when she signed it on May 15. The bill makes no exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest; the only exception is if the person carrying the fetus risks death by continuing the pregnancy.
The right to make decisions about your own body are deeply personal choices that should be made between individuals and medical professionals. But if the bill becomes law, that will be impossible. While pregnant people won't be penalized for seeking abortions, those who perform abortions could be sentenced to between 10 and 99 years in prison. Advocates say that these new bills will disproportionately affect
people of color, low-income people, and immigrant communities, in addition to being an undue burden on people's right to seek medically appropriate healthcare.
Bustle spoke to seven reproductive rights organizations about HB314, and here's what they had to say.
1 National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
“We have been seeing increasingly more attacks to reproductive rights, like this inhumane law in Alabama, and what worries us the most about these bans is that communities with fewer resources, especially immigrant communities and communities of color, pay the highest price," Bethany Van Kampen, senior policy analyst for
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, tells Bustle via email.
"Those with resources will always find a way to get abortion access. But our community already faces so many barriers to seek[ing] reproductive services — they often work several jobs to make ends meet and live in under-served communities — they simply don't have the time nor the resources to go out of state to get an abortion. That is why contrary to news narratives that typecast the Latinx community as too conservative to support abortion access, eight in 10 Latinx voters believe that women should have the right to make personal decisions about abortion. Let’s be clear, they do not support this ban."
2 Physicians for Reproductive Health
"As a physician serving the families of Alabama for 15 years, I know that abortion is health care. If the anti-abortion politicians leading our state of Alabama make the grave mistake of passing a bill that would criminalize those who provide abortion care, it would have a disastrous effect on the health and well-being of Alabamians. Physicians will be unwilling to help patients in need, even when continuing pregnancy is detrimental to a patient’s health, or potentially fatal, out of fear of being scrutinized by the criminal justice system," Dr. Yashica Robinson, a board member of
Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in an email sent to Bustle.
"It is inappropriate for lawmakers to insert their own belief systems into complex, personal health decisions that could affect my daughter and the people I take care of in Alabama. We must protect the health and lives of our loved ones and the future generations of our families."
3 Power to Decide
Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of
Power to Decide, tells Bustle: "All people deserve unrestricted access to reproductive health services, and access to abortion is part of the full range of reproductive health services. This access is essential to achieve health equity. The recently passed Alabama law undermines women’s health by eliminating the opportunity all people deserve — regardless of who they are or where they live — to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child." 4 Women’s Equality Center Charles McQuillan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"It’s not hard to imagine how abortion bans in the U.S. would affect women — we see the harrowing consequences in countries with strict bans every day. In El Salvador, more than 50 women have been
prosecuted and imprisoned for suspected abortions, including women who have suffered miscarriages and stillbirths," Paula Avila Guillen, director of Latin America Initiatives at the Women’s Equality Center, tells Bustle.
"In Argentina, young survivors of rape and incest have been denied their right to a legal abortion and instead forced to risk their lives to continue the pregnancy or seek an unsafe, clandestine abortion. Make no mistake, the efforts in Alabama, Georgia, and other states to ban nearly all abortions will propel us toward this dire reality unless people across the country rise up and use their voice to actively protect our reproductive freedom."
5 National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
"Extreme lawmakers in Alabama had a singular goal in mind with HB 314: to overturn Roe v. Wade and cut pregnant people off from accessing the care they need," Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, said in a statement emailed to Bustle.
"While Roe never was a guarantee of reproductive health and rights for pregnant people of color, an outcome where Roe is overturned, even in part, would be devastating to our communities and other communities [that] most likely to struggle with achieving full self-determination. AAPI women now call on the courts to stop this outrageous attempt to topple Roe by listening first and foremost to our voices and the voices of others most likely to be experience barriers to obtaining care with dignity."
"NAPAWF will not stop fighting for our agency to make decisions about our lives, our families, and our communities. We demand that the courts do the right thing and listen to communities of color to stop this draconian law in its tracks."
6 Planned Parenthood of New York City
Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City says: "This degrading bill strips patients of their fundamental humanity and individual autonomy.
Planned Parenthood of New York City will NOT stand idle while lawmakers use extreme and dangerous legislation as a jackhammer to dismantle abortion access and vital health care. PPNYC is doubling down on its mission for our current patients, and for all New Yorkers and people across the country who will need to find their way to our health centers."
She also says that the organization is expanding its services to help more people in need. "As part of that effort, PPNYC is moving forward to merge with four New York Planned Parenthood affiliates to provide more services, better care, and greater opportunities for our patients to make their own decisions about their reproductive health. It’s called
Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. PPGNY and our sister affiliates across the state are human rights sanctuaries for all who need us." 7 National Network of Abortion Funds
"We are not surprised by these outlandish tactics by anti-choice politicians. They know the majority of Americans support safe and legal abortion access, which is why they resort to lies and misinformation to prop up their radical anti-choice agenda. We are thrilled to see
Yellowhammer fund [offering funding for anyone seeking care at one of Alabama's three abortion clinics] uplifted and an outpouring of support. We want to see that support sustained," Yamani Hernandez, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, tells Bustle.
"In 2017 abortion funds on average had only a fifth of the funding they needed to support the totality of people calling for help. Abortion Funds know that Roe v. Wade has never been a promise to actual access to an abortion and have been navigating a landscape of reduced access, heightened logistics, and impending criminality for decades. Abortion fund members haven't waited for the government to do its job to ensure people get to the care they need."
"From our perspective, there's three things people can do right now. They can
donate to a local abortion fund. They can become a member and anchor to their local abortion fund for ways to volunteer and take action within our political and cultural agenda. They can remember that everyone loves someone who has had an abortion and that Audre Lorde said, 'Despair is a tool of your enemy.' Our movement is fueled by the love our people as we get them to care and power." 8 Here's How You Can Fight Back
With seven states passing bills to severely
restrict or ban abortions altogether, limiting reproductive rights will undoubtedly endanger the health of people seeking to terminate pregnancies.
The good news is
that you can start fighting back by actively supporting and donating to groups that provide safe abortions. Because choice is empowerment. Period.