Patriarchy Run Amok
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed a newly passed draconian abortion ban into law Wednesday. Ivey signed the ban into Alabama law just one day after twenty-five Republican male senators passed it. “Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature,” Ivey said in a statement. Ivey later invoked religion in her justification for signing the bill, claiming, “To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
Legal scholars note Alabama’s new abortion ban is not only a threat to the rule of law but also human rights and freedom cherished by every American. Typically, misogynist intrusion into women’s choice this extreme is reserved for fictional dramas like The Handmaid’s Tale. But the intentional violation of judicial precedent is part of a larger right-wing scheme to contravene the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and enforce Christian ideals nationwide.
Ignoring the patriarchal roots of the Alabama legislature in addition to the role gender played in the passage of the Alabama Human Life Protection Act would be a disservice. From its founding, the United States operated under the English Common Law doctrine of coverture, which recognized women as the chattel of their husbands. The actions of the Alabama legislature appear eager to return to that bygone era, with men possessing sovereign domain over women’s bodies.
In Alabama, the state senate consists of thirty-five total members. Twenty-seven of those thirty-five are Republicans. All twenty-seven Republican members are white men, and twenty-five of those twenty-seven white men voted Tuesday to ban abortions in every instance except one. The lone exception to the abortion ban is when the mother’s health is “seriously” at risk. If Republicans have their way, and the Supreme Court promulgates this human rights violation, the United States will stand alone. As nearly the entirety of the developed world allows women to make independent choices regarding their reproductive health.
The United States, once revered globally as a beacon of freedom, will soon light the path for oppression and government invasion into women’s bodies.
Governor Ivey and the exclusively white male lawmakers who passed the abortion ban established a dangerous precedent Wednesday. In addition to the defying judicial precedent, Alabama’s legislature has incentivized men with no alternatives to fatherhood to rape. Since the Alabama abortion ban removes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, childless men now have a government created pathway to parenthood.
The landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade granted women autonomy over their pregnancies in the first trimester, while sanctioning states to impose restrictions during the second and third trimesters. Despite this precedent, states with Republican-controlled legislatures continually attack women’s rights hoping to facilitate an overturning of Roe.
With abortion remaining legal in states neighboring Alabama, this ban will prove to have a disproportionate impact on folks lacking the means to travel out of state. Alabama’s anti-choice law has sparked a chain reaction, with Louisiana and Missouri looking to follow suit this week, moving their versions of abortion bans through the state assembly.