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Opinion | Alabama lawmakers have an opportunity to fix abortion laws. They won’t

The Alabama Supreme Court’s IVF ruling has exposed obvious flaws in our laws. This is a chance to actually fix them.

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Science and Alabama are often at odds. 

Nowhere has that been more consistent or evident than in the debate over abortion, where our laws and lawmakers routinely stray into the area of flimsy biblical interpretation to write laws and impose their beliefs on the masses. And typically, science can go take a flying leap. 

Our state passed a “sanctity of life” amendment to the Alabama constitution and it passed one of the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion laws. In doing so in both cases, lawmakers talked openly about life beginning at the moment of conception. 

In other words, an embryo. 

Now, in addition to fighting science, we also tend to go toe-to-toe with unintended consequences on the regular. Remember when we passed that “toughest in the nation” immigration bill, because we were looking for a new minority group to vilify, and then all the crops rotted in the fields? Or how about all of those times we refused to properly legalize and regulate gambling, because that would be “immoral,” and instead got left with billions of dollars in illegal gambling propping up all sorts of illegal activities and organized crime outfits? 

Basically, what I’m saying here is that if we can shine something up real pretty on the front end and convince the rubes that we’re doing it for Jesus or country or college football, we don’t worry so much about the backside consequences. Our lawmakers have perfected the “oh my god we never saw this coming” response to totally predictable outcomes. 

This week in the Alabama Legislature has been a showcase of those talents, as lawmakers tried to reconcile their “all life is precious” and “life begins at conception” statements with the sudden realization that a bunch of fertility clinics have been chunking “children” – frozen as they might be – into dumpsters. 

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And so, there they were on Thursday, on the House floor, trying their best to tell everyone why a child isn’t a child if it’s in a freezer at UAB instead of in the womb of a woman they’d like to control. 

(Funny thing about this abortion debate – it’s a lot less fun and easy when there’s not a woman to turn into the heartless villain.)

Now, in a less-Alabama-y world, this situation would present these lawmakers – these leaders of people – with an opportunity to set aside the talking points and bumper sticker BS and have a real, frank, science-based conversation about abortion, life, pregnancy, women’s rights and the role of government in all of this.   

It will likely not surprise you to learn that those same lawmakers are less adept at learning from their mistakes, or even quietly correcting them in such a way that future problems are avoided. Instead, what our folks tend to do is come up with a quick, superficial fix that in no way addresses the gaping holes in their logic and laws, and promise something more substantial and encompassing down the road – a road that never quite ends. 

This, no doubt, will be one of those occasions. Because there simply is no legal remedy for this mess they’ve created with their religious-based governance. The only option now is science. 

They can’t take that option. Because if they do, well, they might have to start taking the science option more regularly, leaving behind the ridiculous pandering of the emotional, religious-based options. 

Imagine a world where we stop this ridiculously simplistic arguing over an issue as complicated as abortion and instead employ the opinions of doctors and scientists, utilizing medical testing and the latest in technology, to set laws concerning abortion. Imagine a state of Alabama where we don’t simultaneously tell a 12-year-old that she can’t access a book at the local library about a gay kid but that God wants her to have that baby. 

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There’s a way to go about this – a rational, calm, reasonable way. To allow doctors to determine the time frame at which that fetus in the womb actually turns into a child. A way to set laws that reflect those scientific realities, and laws that ignore idiotic nonsense about “post-birth abortion” and other unhelpful talking points. Laws that value the opinions of doctors and respect the harsh realities of pregnancy and life and tragedy. 

The IVF ruling has given us an opportunity to do these things, to acknowledge the obvious flaws in our current laws and take a step towards honoring the constitution and the country we all love by removing the religious pandering from this important issue. 

They’ll never do it, of course. But man, this sure would be a good time for it.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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