By passing a law that protects life in the womb, Alabama has accomplished the unthinkable—according to the highly profitable abortion industry.
Notably, the new law puts the focus on abortionists—not mothers. Committing an abortion in Alabama is now a Class A felony carrying a sentence of 10 to 99 years in prison (depending on a judge’s ruling). Attempting to commit an abortion is now a Class C felony carrying a prison term of 1 to 10 years.
Unlike most other recent pro-life legislation, this law protects the lives of babies conceived in rape or incest. This has enraged the chattering classes committed to abortion on demand. But as pro-life leaders conceived in rape like Ryan Bomberger illustrate, a pregnancy resulting from rape is only the beginning of a story, not the end. As a society, we don't issue birth certificates with points ranking some people as better than others based on their parents’ race, income, marital status, or events on the night of conception. A birth certificate tells a simple truth: a unique life is in the world.
Those conceived in rape also deserve life. In our culture, such people are the most marginalized. The prejudice against them because of their birth story ignores their humanity and their potential. As Americans, haven't we already learned that our courts and government should never decide that some people are less than human and less deserving of respect and protection?
The media has also made a lot of noise about the fact that Alabama’s law permits the imprisonment of those who commit abortions for money. But the answer is not to kill infants, but rather to help mothers and their children. The law rightly focuses on the predatory abortion vendors who daily profit from ending life—not the woman who contacts them in a moment of despair. Despite media misinformation, before Roe women were not the focus of prosecution related to abortion. Rather, abortionists drew attention away from their own deeds by dragging women into court.
This debate also raised another canard: Many claim this law could permit the prosecution of women dealing with the tragedy of miscarriage. This cruel and patently false spin ignores an issue important in any legal case: intent. U.S. Legal notes, “Intent is a determination to perform a particular act or to act in a particular manner. Intent is usually based on a specific reason. It is an aim, design or a resolution to use a certain means to reach an end.”
Abortionists know that what they do brings unique life to an end. Comparing natural miscarriage with deliberate abortion is like comparing natural death with deliberate euthanasia. It matters whether someone deliberately—and for profit—ends a life.
Bill sponsor Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, said that recent state-level action on the abortion question had convinced her to bring forward this legislation now. “It's the right time when you look at all the states around the country, whether they're conservative and they're passing very pro-life legislation or they're more liberal and they're passing the opposite, I think everybody's sensing that it might be time for a change,” she said.
The New York Times agrees, in a piece headlined “‘The Time is Now’: States are Rushing to Restrict Abortion, or to Protect it.” Pro-life Americans today must be willing to work at the state level, where most of the real fight for life is taking place. To that end, Students for Life of America launched a c4 organization, Students for Life Action, to get engaged at the state level through our more than 1,200 groups in all fifty states. The goal is to pass laws today and to lead the charge tomorrow, fulfilling our mission as a post-Roe organization.
According to Alabama law, says Collins, “that baby in the womb is a person.” Are those people protected in your state? Alabama’s success challenges the pro-life movement to redouble our efforts to protect all life in law.
Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America. Follow her @KristanHawkins
Photo by Jay Williams via Creative Commons. Image cropped.
Become a fan of First Things on Facebook, subscribe to First Things via RSS, and follow First Things on Twitter.