A federal judge in the US has blocked the Alabama anti-abortion bill temporarily, which was to go into implementation from November 15. Infamously one of the most stringent abortion bills in the country, the bill allowed abortion only when an expecting mother’s life is at serious risk or if the foetus had a fatal prognosis, reports BBC. The bill did not make an exception even for survivors of rape and incest. US District Judge Myron Thompson wrote in his opinion that this bill defied the constitution of the United States. “It violates the right of an individual to privacy, to make choices central to personal dignity and autonomy. It diminishes the capacity of women to act in society, and to make reproductive decisions,” he wrote. But the battle for reproductive rights in Alabama and the rest of the country remains heated, as the conservative lobby gains strength and flexes its muscle.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • A federal judge has blocked Alabama’s abortion ban temporarily.
  • The anti-abortion bill passed in the state didn’t even make an exception for cases of rape and incest.
  • But the threat over women’s reproductive rights is not over yet. 
  • Unless the larger mind-set over women’s agency changes, their rights shall remain under risk.

The battle for reproductive rights in Alabama and the rest of the country remains heated, as the conservative lobby gains strength and flexes its muscle.

Alabama is just one of the many states in the US which witnessed a flurry of anti-abortion laws being passed this year, leaving the pro-choice lobby in shock and disbelief. The state of Georgia passed Foetal Heartbeat bill in May which basically made abortion after six weeks of pregnancy illegal in the state. Close to it, the Texas Senate passed a bill which criminalised doctors for performing “discriminatory” abortions on basis of race, gender or disability in a foetus, thus forcing women to carry on with ill-fated pregnancy. This series of anti-abortion bills passed almost back to back is indicative of why pro-choice wing can’t breathe a sigh of relief despite the Alabama outcome (which is temporary as of yet, mind you).

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The problem is that bills passed and bills proposed in this matter are indicative of the conservative mind-set of an alarmingly large vote bank in the country. For politicians, anti-abortion bills are nothing but an appeasement strategy to secure their seats and hold on to power. It is on the other side of the ballot box, where the actual problem lies. When politicians are being voted into the office on promises of anti-abortion bills, can we solely hold them responsible? Unless and until the electorate’s opinion marks a shift from pro-life to pro-choice, women’s reproductive rights will forever remain under threat of being stifled.

Pro-choice, like pro-life needs to become an election agenda that governs the pattern of voting. But will this approach lead to any long term positive results?

While it is easier said than done, we need to understand how power structures work in any country and negate the demand to get rid of the supply of misogynist moves such as this. This means the pro-choice lobby needs to be more vocal and politically driven about its agenda. We shouldn’t wait to champion women’s rights only when they come under threat. Pro-choice, like pro-life needs to become an election agenda that governs the pattern of voting. But will this approach lead to any long term positive results? Or will women’s reproductive rights become a tug of war, with each side having its way when its representatives come into power, leaving the well-being and future of womankind in a lurch?

If we aim to rid women from this fix, we need to start asking more questions to the pro-life wing and those whose opinion is prone to swing, to stimulate them to see the pro-choice point of view from all aspects. What will happen to children born to unwanted mothers? You can force someone to bring a child into the world, but you cannot force them to be good parents, or be parents at all. How does the pro-life lobby intend to make sure that every baby born due to abortion ban gets a happy home and a healthy childhood? That they are not neglected or dumped or worse suffer abuse at the hands of their parents?

We can also start conditioning the next generation to value women’s rights. To not objectify women’s bodies and pin their existence to their wombs. Hopefully in the future, no woman will have to worry about her reproductive rights being in hands of everyone but herself.

Picture Credit: Sky News

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.

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