Context is this invisible thing that is SO powerful and clearly informs CONTENT.  As Alabama passes the most restrictive abortion law ever, I thought it worth looking at WHO is making this law.  Based upon state analysis here’s some of how Alabama measures up to the other 50 (***In our modern age of “alternative facts,” references for all citations are listed below.***):

  • 50TH in Average Lifespan[i]
  • 49TH in Firearm Death Rate[ii]
  • 48TH  in Poverty Rates[iii]
  • 45TH in Adult Obesity [iv]
  • 44TH in Murder Rates[v]
  • 44TH in STD Rates[vi]
  • 41ST in Incarceration Rates[vii]
  • 38TH in Toxic Chemical Releases[viii]
  • 35TH in Environmental Protection [ix]
  • 31ST in Economy[x]
  • 27TH  in Suicide rates[xi]

Specifically related to children Alabama is:

  • 50TH in Education[xii]
  • 42ND in Teen Birth Rate[xiii]
  • 42ND in Overall Child well-being[xiv]

I found myself having an automatic reaction of anger and outrage at the injustice of a state clearly with more pressing issues for those already alive. Coupled with Alabama’s history as part of the Confederacy championing slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow, (to say nothing to nearly electing Roy Moore the U.S. Congress), lecturing the rest of our nation on issues of morality seemed inappropriate at best.  To imagine Alabama lawmakers telling women like Maya Angelou, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, Kamala Harris, Sally Yates, Sheryl Sandberg, Elizabeth Warren or any other woman what to do with their bodies is appalling. But I’m reminded of the words of Nelson Mandela how:

“Hatred is like taking poison & expecting the other to suffer.”

The data is overwhelming that poverty creates poverty, violence creates violence, and ignorance creates ignorance.  While there are always exceptions, these things tend to create vicious cycles that build off themselves and snowball.  Alabama is not alone in our nation on this issue as Republican led states continue to pass law after law, they acknowledge, to force a Supreme Court showdown.

Unacknowledged by any of these states is the clear sexism of white, male privilege once again.  The same arrogance that viewed persons of color as “property,” and prevented women from voting until the 1920s, is alive and well with largely men believing they know best, and are qualified to make decisions about one of the most personal and intimate medical decisions an adult woman can make about her very own body.

The litmus test is obvious – simply imagine if the roles were reversed.  Can you imagine any testosterone drive male military veteran, blue collar worker, police officer, fireman, judge, sports hero, Rock star, or politician acquiescing to the government mandated physical challenges of carrying to term and birthing a child.  Imagine these same men being legally forced to accept vomiting, cramping, bloating, fatigue, mood swings, and giving up alcohol, caffeine and smoking for 9 months, to say nothing of the post pregnancy impacts – NO F’ING WAY!!!  To force women to endure something against their will that men would never agree to in this modern age is an abomination of the freedom and dignity of all humans our nation claims to be founded on.

To all who claim to speak for “the freedom and dignity of unborn children,” we need to be honest that a fetus is not a child, any more than a sperm and an egg are.  We know this because if the word “fetus” equaled (=) “child” we’d go around telling parents what a lovely “fetuses” they have interchangeably with words like “child,” “kid,” “boy,” or “girl.”

Let’s also be clear that “LIFE” doesn’t begin at the moment of conception.  Life began long before any of us were born, and it will continue to go on regardless of the conscious choices of some women at distinct and unique times in their lives.

I am concerned that a casualty our social media world, is the tendency to invalidate the totality others we disagree with and close off any possibility for contribution by those with differing views.  I have also found that there is almost always a seed of truth in every side.  Perhaps the kernel with those who believe abortion should be illegal, that may be difficult or uncomfortable for pro-choicers to acknowledge, is a sincere desire to honor the sacredness of life in its earliest forms – which is a beautiful thing.  Along with the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies, perhaps this is a context BOTH sides can agree upon.

Showing EQUAL respect for the sacredness of lives of grown women who can think and speak for themselves, and whose views about their very own bodies and pregnancies are of FAR MORE relevance and import than those of the politicians they’ll never meet, most of whom won’t ever experience pregnancy themselves, is something we need to resolve once and for all.  We need to progress beyond the circle of re-hashing of these issues so that we may shift our energies to actually improving the quality of life for both children and adults who are living NOW!

[i] https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/scientists-just-ranked-all-50-states-by-life-expectancy-results-are-truly-stunning.html

[ii] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/firearm_mortality/firearm.htm

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_poverty_rate

[iv] https://www.stateofobesity.org/adult-obesity/

[v] https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-nationally-and-state#MRord

[vi] https://www.alarms.org/std-statistics/

[vii] https://www.sentencingproject.org/the-facts/#rankings?dataset-option=SIR

[viii] http://scorecard.goodguide.com/ranking/rank-states.tcl?type=mass&category=total_env&modifier=na&how_many=100

[ix] https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/natural-environment

[x] https://www.businessinsider.com/state-economy-ranking-q1-2018-2

[xi] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/suicide-mortality/suicide.htm

[xii] https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/education

[xiii] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/teen-births/teenbirths.htm

[xiv] http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2018/images/06/26/aecf-2018kidscountdatabook-embargoed-2018.pdf