An open letter to the lawmakers of Alabama

Dear Pro-Life Advocates:

Congratulations. After 46 years, you did it. You’ve taken a huge step toward the goal of overturning Roe vs. Wade and reestablishing the sanctity of all human life. From the first heartbeat to the last, you have declared all life to be valuable.

I know that this long, hard battle is not over. Lawsuits will be filed. Court decisions will be made. Other states, and even the federal government will weigh in on the issue. But this is an important step.

I’ve just got one question for you, though: Now what?

What comes next? Where do we go from here? What does this mean for unborn children and the mothers who carry them?

I mean, we all know that outlawing abortion does not mean an end to unwanted pregnancies, so does this mean that you will now provide easier access to birth control? Does this mean that insurance companies will have to cover birth control prescriptions and that religious organizations will no longer be able to opt out of it in their healthcare plans?

And we all know that a pregnant woman needs regular medical care, so does this mean that all pregnant women will have access to affordable healthcare? And will they be given paid sick leave to go to their prenatal doctor or to stay home with morning sickness?

And once the baby is born, it deserves the utmost care and attention from its mother, so does this mean that you will require businesses to offer paid maternity/paternity leave? If so, for how long? Or at the very least, will the mother be guaranteed that she will keep her job if she has to go out on unpaid leave to care for the child?

And what about the children born to low-wage workers? Will you increase the minimum wage so that a woman can care for herself and her baby?

And the child and mother are both going to need medical care after the baby is born. Are you going to provide that as well?

And this newborn baby is going to grow up to be a child who goes to school. Are you going to provide adequate funding for public education so that this child can one day be an informed voter and make a positive contribution to his/her society?

And mother and child need to eat well in order to be healthy. Does this law provide low-income mothers with better access to healthy food? Does it encourage grocery store chains to open up stores in so-called “food deserts” in our urban communities?

I heard that this new law does not allow for abortion in the case of incest of rape. I get it, all life is valuable and the mother can always offer the child up for adoption. But what about the nine months during which the mother carries that baby? Will you provide not only medical care for her body, but emotional care for her heart and mind? Will you provide some sort of buffer between her and the world so that she does not have to field questions about her pregnancy and relive perhaps the most horrible event of her life? Do you have some way of shielding her from the trauma of flashbacks as she watches her belly grow and feels that baby kick? Do you have some way of restoring her innocence after that child is born?

I fully understand that an unwanted pregnancy does not have to end in abortion. Adoption and foster care are an option. So, does this new law provide additional funding for the foster care system? Does it provide for better recruitment of good foster parents and better ways of screening for bad ones? Does it streamline the adoption process so that good, loving parents can afford to easily adopt an unwanted baby? And does it create a better system for transitioning children out of the foster care system and into the larger society?

This law is interesting in that it establishes the first heartbeat as the sign of life, as the sign of personhood. What about the legal ramifications of that decision? How will this affect laws governing end-of-life decisions? If a fetus is considered human when its heart starts beating, does it remain human and alive until the heart stops beating? What does this mean for DNR orders? Will families be allowed to pull their loved one off of life support if the heart is still beating?

And what does it mean for rights of citizenship? If a fetus with a heartbeat is considered a legal person, does that mean that now a child conceived on US soil is a US citizen? Have you thought through all the legal gymnastics this might require?

And I notice the law requires mothers to carry a baby to full term, and it severely punishes a doctor for performing an abortion, but is there any mention of the father? I mean, after all, it does “take two to tango.” What are the legal consequences of getting a woman pregnant if she does not want a baby? Does this mean that child support laws will be more strictly enforced? Will there be legal consequences for trying to pressure a woman into having an abortion?

I realize this is a great accomplishment, a moral victory even. But I feel like maybe y’all didn’t think this all the way through. You may have solved one problem, but I think you are creating – or at least magnifying – a lot of other problems in the process. I am all for protecting unborn babies, but what about protecting the mothers? And what about protecting the babies after they are born?

I just think you’re going about this the wrong way. I think that instead of cutting off the supply, you need to reduce the demand. If women and children – both born and unborn – are well taken care of, there will be very little, if any, need for women to seek out an abortion.

There is a lot more to being pro-life than just ending abortion, and I wish y’all were just as zealous about protecting other vulnerable members of society as you were about protecting the not-yet-born.

6 thoughts on “An open letter to the lawmakers of Alabama

  1. At the end of the day, banning abortions means a woman’s right to her own body has been stripped away from her. While I fully agree with your points about the true meaning being of pro-life, the point is that refusing a woman the right to choose whether or not her body will be used to incubate another person means women are not equal and free. As long as the government gives more rights to a fetus than it does living, breathing women, the notion of banning abortions violates women’s human rights. Period.
    And lets not forget that banning abortions will not put an end to abortions. It will only put an end to SAFE abortions.
    So, rather than banning abortions…and rather than continuing this us VS. them mentality… and rather than perpetuating this horrible stigma and shaming women who find themselves in tricky situations, I believe we should all work together to create a world where we (like you said) reduce the demand for abortions. A woman’s right to choose needs to be preserved AND all life needs to be valued and supported though all these wonderful resources you’ve suggested above.
    Thank you for this post. It’s great to hear from someone who actually understands that being pro-life isn’t about banning abortions, but simply about supporting all life including that which goes beyond the uterus. *fist bump*


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