Hundreds protest strict Alabama abortion law
Around 400 people took to the streets in the capital city of the southern US state of Alabama on Sunday to rally against the nation’s most restrictive bans on abortions in decades. Women’s reproductive rights defenders gathered in Montgomery, as well as in Birmingham, Anniston and Huntsville where hundreds more were estimated to have joined in denouncing the “Alabama Human Life Protection Act,” or HB314, which virtually outlaws terminations of pregnancy.
Protesters in Montgomery held up signs reading “her body, her choice” and “we are not ovary-acting.” There we no counter-demonstrators. Several other women were dressed as characters forced to bear children in the dystopian novel and television series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” One of them, who gave her name only as Amanda, accused Alabama’s legislators of “trying to imprison women and doctors.”
“Wearing the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ outfit is sending a message that you’re trying to turn us into slaves, reproductive slaves,” the 40-year-old-lawyer told AFP. “They’re trying to fill prisons, more private prisons so that women will do hard labor after they get convicted of these ‘crimes’ of abortion.” Last week, Alabama passed a law that prohibits all abortions -- even in cases of incest and rape -- unless there is a risk of death for the mother.
“Our call center’s been getting hundreds and hundreds of phone calls from concerned citizens asking us what this means,” said Barbara Ann Luttrell, director of communications and marketing for Planned Parenthood Southeast. Planned Parenthood is not currently providing abortion services in Alabama.
“We’ll be having abortion services up and running again as soon as possible,” she said. The Alabama law is likely to be blocked in state courts before its November launch date but Republican Governor Kay Ivey acknowledged when she signed it that it was part of as a wider Republican offensive to get the issue relitigated on the national stage.
Conservative activists hope to get a Supreme Court decision against the landmark 1973 ruling Roe v Wade that said unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional. Conservatives are counting on support at the highest court in the land, where liberal justices are in a minority after the arrival of two conservative members appointed by President Donald Trump.
Trump appeared to suggest Alabama lawmakers had gone too far in a series of tweets late Saturday in which he described himself as “strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions - Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother.” He urged the anti-abortion side to “stick together and Win for Life” when it comes to voting in 2020.