What the Reaction to the Alabama Law Says About the Abortion Debate

First, Georgia passed a fetal heartbeat bill, which prohibited most abortions past the time a heartbeat is detected from a fetus.

The new law seemed to be designed to trigger the pro-choice side of the abortion debate. Then Alabama, in effect, said, “Hold my mint julep.”

Alabama just passed into law a bill that outlawed all abortions with only exceptions of the life or health of the mother included.

Women and girls who had been made pregnant as the result of rape or incest were out of luck.

They have to carry the baby to term.

Doctors who violated the new law could be sent away for 99 years.

The Alabama law, in effect, took very seriously the idea that abortion is murder.

The pro-choice side reacted with near total hysteria.

Alyssa Milano, who proclaimed a sex strike after the Georgia law, tweeted, “In Alabama, Black women are dying from cervical cancer at 2x the rate of white women, and from pregnancy & childbirth more than 4x as often. In the face of public health crises that are killing women, politicians are eroding health care access & jailing doctors.”

Most of the reaction from the pro-choice side suggested that the pro-life movement had declared war on women, no doubt in preparation of bringing forth the dystopian future depicted in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Others pointed out that, at least in the state of Alabama, rapists and men who commit incest on their daughters would be punished far less than the doctors who end the pregnancies that result.

In almost no instance has the word “abortion: been used. The people who have reacted badly to the Alabama law prefer to use less descriptive phrases like, “Women’s reproductive health.”

The legislators who passed the Alabama law and the women governor who signed it into law respond, in effect, “To be sure being raped or molested by a close relative is a horrible thing. But should the baby be punished for that crime as well?”

The reaction illustrates the unbridgeable divide that exists between pro-life and pro-choice America.

For the pro-life movement, abortion is all about the baby.

If a fetus is a human being from the point of conception, then it follows that aborting it is murder.

People on the other side of the question barely acknowledge that a baby is involved.

To them, abortion is all about the mother and the financial and psychological cost of being forced to remain pregnant.

While most people are in the middle, abortion allowed in the first trimester and then restricted thereafter, the two extremes have defined the debate.

Curiously, even some pro-lifers think the Alabama law goes too far.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, President Donald Trump, and even Pat Robertson have expressed reservations.

The idea is that the Alabama law will inflame pro-choice people who might register their displeasure at the polls and that, besides, the courts will almost certainly strike it down under Roe v. Wade.

Overturning the 1973 ruling that allowed abortion in all 50 states will be a gradual work of many years,

However, the Alabama law and the less stringent Georgia fetal heartbeat law constitute a push-back to the recent New York law that permitted abortion up to the second of birth.

The democratic governor of Virginia Ralph Northam did not help matters when he implied that an infant might be killed after it was born if the doctor and the mother agreed, a statement that others think is a gross misinterpretation of what the governor said.

Truth to tell, the two opposing sides of the abortion debate cannot be reconciled.

The two sides not only hold to two different sets of values but inhabit two distinct universes.

The comparison to the pre-Civil War slavery debate seems apt.

The abolitionists maintained that every human, including African Americans, were God’s creation, endowed with all the rights and responsibilities enumerated in the United States Constitution.

The southern slaveholders countered that their slaves were not, strictly speaking, human beings, at least as a matter of law.

They were, to use the phrase the ancient Romans used, “Tools that speak.”

That attitude was held even by slaveholders who treated their slaves with relative kindness, out of inclination or policy.

The abortion debate will continue to be a long, twilight struggle, a cold civil war as it were.

How it is won, if it can be won, is beyond people’s capacity to know.