No exception for rape or incest
“This is just another day in Alabama,” Mia Raven, founder and director of the POWER House, sighed as she spoke, pointing to what she described as a persistent climate of patriarchy in the south. “We’re used to this, but this is extreme.” While Raven said her organization’s protest activities will continue, she also anticipates a legal battle. Indeed the civil rights organization ACLU of Alabama has already signaled its intentions to sue over the legislation.
“This is going to go through the courts, and in the end the Alabama taxpayer will have to pay,” Raven said. “Women are guaranteed this under the 14th Amendment [to the US Constitution], and I don’t see anyone taking away someone’s Second Amendment rights or their First Amendment rights. It only seems to be women.”
Although the Alabama bill may have grabbed international headlines, seeking an abortion in the state has quietly become increasingly difficult in recent years: Only three clinics currently offer the service in a state that counts a population of around 2.5 million women, and every facility has protestors, meaning women frequently have to face a gauntlet of megaphones and cameras.
“Protestors will film them, Facebook Live them, take pictures of them. If they wear anything related to where they work they will call their work. You can get fired here for any reason,” said Raven, who also works at a clinic. It is not an uncommon sight to see volunteers from POWER wear rainbow vests and use umbrellas to escort patients into the clinic, in an attempt to shield them from harassment.
Before those considering abortion even take the step of visiting a clinic in Alabama, however, help is hard to come by. Googling the terms “Alabama abortion clinic” produces just a handful of results, and the second name listed is COPE Pregnancy Center, also in Montgomery. For a woman who is “abortion-minded,” the center recommends the patient “at least undergo an ultrasound first,” said Lorie Mullins, COPE’s executive director. For those considering abortion out of financial insecurity, the center encourages women to take parenting classes to earn them diapers, baby wipes, car seats and cribs in return.