Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act this week, which would essentially ban all abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk.
This includes cases of sexual assault and incest.
That’s right. Alabama’s HB 314 would force survivors of rape or incest to carry their babies to term. Doctors who perform abortions could face up to 99 years in prison—decades longer than the maximum sentence for those convicted of second-degree rape.
This is an appalling attack on fundamental rights of all women—one which harms the health and safety of sexual violence survivors.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape joins women and survivors across the country in rejecting this outright attack on reproductive health options and voicing our support for women’s legal rights to access care without fear of punishment or retaliation.
While Alabama is the first to outright ban abortion, we can’t forget that Missouri today pushed a bill to the governor’s desk banning abortion after eight weeks. Ohio, Georgia and a growing number of other states including Pennsylvania are also introducing and/or passing laws that further restrict women’s access to legal and safe reproductive care.
Ebony Tucker, advocacy director at RALIANCE and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, reflected on how misogyny is at the core of this dangerous trend in a joint op-ed for Refinery29 last month with Shaina Goodman, director of policy for reproductive health and rights at the National Partnership for Women & Families.
Tucker and Goodman said, “Deciding whether and when to have a child and whether or when to consent to sexual activity are both fundamentally about asserting autonomy over our own bodies. And both restrictions on abortion and the dismissal of sexual assault are about people in power — predominantly men — trying to strip away our dignity and roll back our march toward equality.”
It’s time to come together to speak out against the harmful laws that reinforce abortion restrictions and the pervasive culture that disregards women’s right to control their own bodies.
Note: In Pennsylvania, the House of Representatives passed a bill May 14 to ban abortions when Down syndrome is detected if that is the sole reason for the procedure. The bill is awaiting vote in the state Senate. Gov. Tom Wolf said he would veto the legislation—and any other anti-choice bill— if it reached his desk.
Current PA state law prohibits abortions beginning in the 24th week of pregnancy.