Newspapers in Alabama are handing the mic over to local women. On Sunday, according to The Huffington Post, major news outlets in Alabama published women's essays about abortion in the light of the state's recently passed ban. Kelly Scott, the vice president of Alabama Media Group — which ran the essays initiative — wrote in her AL.com op-ed that the idea was to uplift women's voices instead of the male legislators who voted in favor of the abortion ban.
On May 15, Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the "Human Life Protection Act" into law, making it the most extreme abortion ban in the country. HB 314 bans the procedure in all cases except when it is medically proven that there is a potentially lethal abnormality in the fetus or if the woman's life is at risk. There are no exceptions for survivors of sexual assault or incest. As CNN reported, all 25 legislators who voted in favor of HB 314 were Republican men.
The three newspapers in the Alabama Media Group to publish these women's essays were The Birmingham News, Huntsville Times, and Mobile Press-Register, according to Newsweek. And the response seemed to be overwhelming; Scott wrote in her op-ed that in less than 24 hours, more than 200 women submitted their essays on abortion.
On Sunday, AL.com tweeted that the essays reflected "what it's like to be a woman in Alabama today." The outlet shared a collage of over 200 faces and said it was time to listen to these women.
Given that this was an opportunity to listen and process what these women had to say, Scott wrote in her op-ed that the comment sections for each story had been "restricted." This was done, she wrote, because the idea was to have "their voices [...] heard instead of debated."
The news group gave women from all walks of life a chance to talk about their views on abortion. Recently, the associate director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, Jean Sinzdak, told ABC News that women's views on abortion access are not "monolithic."
This was apparent in Alabama Media Group's roundup of essays on abortion. Some women wrote about their personal disagreement with the procedure while others strongly defended their right to safe and judgment-free access to reproductive health care options. In some cases, a few women even wrote about their reluctance to move back to the very state they grew up in. With Ivey's support for HB 314, these women felt as if their home state of Alabama was no longer a safe place to be.
Given the extreme nature of HB 314, Scott wrote in her op-ed that listening to what women — and not just lawmakers — had to say was crucial. "They are women who live here," Scott wrote, "and some who have left. Those who have prayed for this very law, and those who now live in fear."
"Mothers, trying to understand the message this law sends to their daughters and sons," the Alabama Media Group's vice president went on to add. "And women who are angry that a majority of men in the state legislature spoke for them." You can read these women's essays here.