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Opinion | Examining the “sanctity of life” in Alabama

Joey Kennedy

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We cannot give Alabama lawmakers (mostly men) and Gov. Kay Ivey a pass on their flippant claim they revere life, as they say they demonstrated in passing the nation’s most strict and unconstitutional anti-abortion law.

Claiming they care a whit about the “sanctity of life” demonstrates total cynicism and disrespect to their constituents.

Much of this has already been underscored in the national media over the past couple weeks; if Alabama politicians know anything, they know how to become laughingstocks and fools to the rest of the nation. It’s their “special” skill.

And to those extremely rare Republican lawmakers who are reasonably sound of mind, that you went along with this charade is deeply disappointing.

Shame on you Sen. Cam Ward. You know better. Grow a pair. The great majority of lawmakers have no issue in serving without integrity. You were not one of them, Sen. Ward.

Writing that last sentence in the past tense is painful. But then, the truth really does hurt.

The anti-woman, anti-physician, anti-choice law would send doctors to prison for up to 99 years for performing an abortion on a woman unless her life was in serious danger. There’s no exception for rape. There’s no exception for incest. There’s certainly no respect for women or their doctors.

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As Ivey stabbed the great majority of Alabama’s women in the back by signing the fatally flawed bill, she smugly, hypocritically, declared: “Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities (of men) in both chambers of the Legislature. To the bill’s many supporters (angry white men and their subservient white wives), this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”

And: “The Legislature has spoken. It underscores the sanctity of life the people of Alabama value so highly.”

Then Ivey proceeded to oversee her seventh execution of an Alabama inmate. She’ll preside over her eighth execution tonight, unless a court intervenes. We know Kay “Sanctity of Life” Ivey sure won’t.

Every life is precious. Every life is a sacred gift from God. Sanctity of life?

More like sanctity of bull****.

Ivey refuses to push for an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. That alone would save actual lives. Alabama’s infant death rate is among the worst in the nation. Third World nations like Cuba have lower infant death rates than Alabama. Yet, not one bill passed this legislative session to address that sad reality.

Our political leaders believe strongly in what they can’t see or prove and then proudly, stubbornly ignore what they can see and do.

Journalist Annalisa Merelli points out there’s nothing new about white women betraying their gender. Merelli first quotes former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

And then Merelli writes: “It might be disappointing to witness women stripping away other women’s rights, but it shouldn’t be surprising. Women — overwhelmingly the white ones — have time and again supported, and in fact fought for, the patriarchy in the US.”

That’s right. Many white women know their place – under their husband’s thumb, and they like it there.

All manner of issues, from women’s suffrage to the Equal Rights Amendment to reproductive freedom have been opposed by white women. They still are.

Right Rep. Terri Collins? Right Gov. Ivey?

Alabama is one of the poorest states in the nation. Yet, our societal safety net is awfully small (more of a dip net, really) and getting smaller. Sanctity of life? Please.

Alabama makes it difficult for poor children even to get food. We want folks who receive government aid to show they’ll work for it, even when they can’t, and we’ll make them take a drug test before they even apply.

Journalist Sasha Abramsky quickly makes the same point about Alabama: “Sanctity of life? Don’t make me laugh. Not surprisingly, in a state whose political leaders view access to basic medical care as a privilege rather than a right, the infant death rate is shockingly high. … At the back end of life, people also die sooner in Alabama than almost everywhere else in the U.S. A lethal cocktail of poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to health care has resulted in a life expectancy that places Alabama 49th out of all the 50 states. An Alabaman born today can expect to live about three years less than the average for an American.”

Abramsky continues: “Additional stresses on Alabamans’ life expectancy come from two other state-specific factors: Alabama has one of the highest gun-fatality rates in the country, and one of the most anti-gun-control legislatures. For every 100,000 Alabamans, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that 22.9 will die of gun-related injuries every year; that compares to 7.9 per 100,000 in California. It also has one of the highest car crash fatality rates in the country … Sanctity of life? More like a potpourri of cruel or unthinking policies that, cumulatively, make life tougher and shorter for Alabama residents.”

Are Ivey and Collins and all those white Republicans in the Legislature just trying to fool themselves? Or are they intentionally scamming us because they assume we’re stupid?

We have to admit we ain’t too smart.

Elections have consequences, folks. We generally get what we deserve. Don’t like it, do something about it. You can, you know.

And women: Don’t be a slave to any man.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

 

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