New U.S. abortion laws spark controversy

Estee Jorgensen Staff Writer, Lena Levey Staff Writer

The Alabama state senate recently voted to ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of circumstances such as rape and incest. Exceptions to the abortion ban can be made if the woman’s life is at risk. Women who travel to another state to get an abortion would be charged with jail time, and doctors who perform abortions could face up to 99 years in prison.

Georgia passed a similar “heartbeat bill” on May 7, which bans abortions once a heartbeat can be heard. This can be as early as six weeks after conception.

These bills are the latest step in the “pro-life” campaign in America to end women’s rights to abortions. This has led to criticism on social media.

Currently, these laws are deemed unconstitutional based on the rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court cases Roe v. Wade in 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. These cases decided when a woman can have an abortion and when a state can regulate abortions according to the 14th Amendment.

However, pro-life advocates hope that these bills will go to the Supreme Court, and the current rulings on abortion will be overturned now that the court has shifted right after the appointment of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Caroline Bradford (’19), who grew up in Georgia, feels like these laws negatively represent her state. “ As well as misrepresenting Georgia, Bradford also feels like these laws are a “step backward for women’s rights.”

Jessie Doleman (’22) agrees. She believes women should have the right to make a decision about their own body. “I think that it’s your body; you should be able to do whatever you feel is right for you,” she said.

Along with the general prohibition of abortions, Doleman finds the restrictions still in cases of rape or incest “heartbreaking.” …”If a woman is raped, which is completely out of their control, and they get pregnant, then they can’t do anything about it,” she said.Health Teacher Bambi Thompson does not support the new laws as she believes that they are “less about life and more about control.” Thompson thinks that these laws are going to bring “more danger than safety” to women living in these states as these bans only stop safe medical abortions.

With the new policies in Georgia and Alabama, Connor Eaton (’21) see the issue from a religious and political perspective. As a Catholic, he mentioned Exodus 21:22-25 which says “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” However, he also feels that “the government … should stay out of the business of medical regulation.”

Thompson thinks that these new laws are putting “body autonomy under threat.” However, she is hopeful to see the rise in movements and policies fighting against these new laws.

Echoing Thompson, Doleman thinks people “need to start making a difference with this or else nothing is ever going to change.”