Joe Henderson: Alabama, of course, out front in battle against Roe v Wade

abortion rights
In the Senate, 25 white men decided what women can do with their bodies

Of course, Alabama would lead the stampede to overturn Roe v Wade. Lawmakers there just passed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. Abortions are now banned there in nearly every instance.

Deep red Alabama, named by as tied (with Mississippi) as the nation’s most religious state. Alabama, where Pew Research reported 58 percent of people believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

Contrarian Alabama, where Gov. George Wallace once stood in a schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama to keep a black student from enrolling.  Wallace vowed in an inauguration speech, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.”

Today, that speech would say, “No abortion now, no abortion tomorrow, no abortion ever.”

Alabama rebels when told what it can do by Washington or anyone else. But now Alabama is fine with telling women what they must do if they’re pregnant. And lawmakers don’t want to stop at their state line.

Alabama’s extraordinary power play to end abortions everywhere will likely head to the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s exactly what supporters of this bill want. They believe the Court finally will see this issue their way. Overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is the holy grail Alabama lawmakers had in mind.

An affirmative court ruling on this law would be the starting gun. Legislatures across the country would rush to pass similarly restrictive laws. They won’t care about protests. The argument that safe, clinical abortion beats a coat hanger and back alley wouldn’t register.

There is no compromise or middle ground.

They have scorn for someone who may not condone abortions but doesn’t want to legislate what a woman can do to her body. You’re all in to stop abortions, or you’re a baby-killer.

Alabama’s Senate proved that when it passed this dark-ages anti-abortion bill by a 25-6 vote. Each of the 25 who voted for approval is a white man. Democratic state Sen. Rodger Smitherman argued for an exception in cases of rape or incest.

He asked what would happen with a 12-year-old girl who was raped by her father?

Each of the 25 white men voted against that exception.

That is mind-boggling in its cruelty and tone-deafness.

But it’s Alabama, the same state that while beating its chest for the sanctity of life ranks 46th in the country for health care.

This one-ups Georgia, which last week became the fourth state to pass a law that bans abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Two similar bills died in committee in Florida’s just-completed Legislative Session. HB 235 and SB 792 would have made it a felony to terminate a pregnancy once a fetal heartbeat was discovered.

But Alabama wins. It can’t get more restrictive than threatening a doctor with a 99-year prison term for performing an abortion. Alabama has virtually guaranteed the High Court will once again decide if abortion remains legal.

Others have tried to get this issue back on the national agenda, but Alabama – of course, Alabama – just showed them the way.

Of course, it did.







Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Angela Wallace

    May 15, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    Yes Alabama is the most left behind backwards backwoods state in our country!! I’m now feeling grief that my whole entire family is from that wanna be state!! But for these old men to be telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies is unbelievable!! Bet me they won’t take of not one these in-wanted rape incest pregnancy those there will be just more in-educated, homeless , hungry people and little children born to neglect and abuse and still the state of alabama and her government will do nothing for the people of her state!!

  • Thomas

    May 16, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    It was a woman who sponsored this bill and convinced 25 men to pass it in the senate after convincing all but three of her colleagues in the Alabama House to vote for it.

    A woman governor signed it into law.

    Since a child in the womb has been recognized in common law since 1200 and the first anti-abortion law was passed in the USA in 1841 (Maine) which led to 30-37 states with unborn child protection laws by 1865, what say you about the right to their standing to be regained in American jurisprudence? There is a whole legal history based on medical knowledge from the concept of “quickening” to the reality of birth.

Comments are closed.


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