On May 14, Republican Alabama governor Kay Ivey issued a statewide ban on abortion by signing the Alabama Human Life Protection Act into law. This bill, set to take effect in November, has faced controversy and severe backlash. The legislation is the most strident out of all state level abortion laws, and the ban applies to all subjects who are capable of performing childbirth. The bill accommodates to only a few exceptions: pregnancies that threaten the health of the mother or embryos with lethal anomalies can be aborted. Unsought pregnancies from rape or acts of incest are not exempted from the law. The public outrage in response to this law has escalated, with several women claiming that men do not have the right to establish laws about their bodies and choices. The Democratic Party, along with pro-choice individuals, celebrities, and 2020 election hopefuls, took to social media as a wave of protests and demands for reproductive justice swept throughout the Internet.
“It really is disheartening to see the progressive loss of women’s rights executed by the current conservative government,” said Jessica Terbrueggen, advisor Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club. “It appears as though the Republicans are using the topic abortion to gain political momentum to overturn Roe v. Wade. The suppressed conservative ideals of America during the Obama administration seem to be on the rise again as the separation line between church and state becomes increasingly blurred.”
As the nation’s strictest abortion law yet, this piece of legislation served as an important turning point in the political sphere. Although the Trump administration is largely pro-life, the White House has taken a partially opposed stance to the law, claiming that it was indeed too strict for its failure to give exceptions to rape and incest victims. Many Democrats and women have claimed that the law was indicative of the Republicans’ motive to overturn Roe v. Wade, the court case that legalized abortion in all 50 states. In response, women have protested in their local town squares and courthouses across the nation denouncing the law. Alabama newspapers also dedicated a section of their Sunday columns to quote the stories of brave women who spoke up about their personal experience with abortion and rape in light of the ongoing event. According to Vox, a nationwide poll conducted in 2018 showed that 35 percent of US citizens were in support of abortion with no exceptions to incest and rape.
“When I first heard the news about Alabama’s ruling on abortion being illegal, I couldn’t help but fear for the near future,” said Angelica Eun (10). “As someone who is planning to attend college in the US, this kind of change in the political and ethical dynamic of the nation worries me. I hope that by the time I move to America, things will have changed for women and girls nationwide.”
In contrast to Alabama’s escalating situation for women and the Democratic Party, South Korea recently experienced a revolutionary turn of events when abortion was legalized and criminalizing abortion was declared unconstitutional. Resistance to an abortion restrictive law being ruled as unconstitutional spread throughout the conservative right-wing parties who claimed that aborting a fetus was inhumane. Under the administration of President Moon Jae-in, South Korea is experiencing a liberal shift in terms of women’s rights as the legalization of abortion accentuates the empowerment of women and their voice in society. The public response in South Korea was in ways parallel to that of Alabama’s. While there were certain parties that appreciated the legalization, the traditional groups of society including the elders strongly opposed this notion. South Korea’s conservative group, the Liberty Korea Party, adamantly demanded the current legislation to rescind the decision and spoke out against the inhumanity of the ruling.
“Personally, I believe that declaring abortion as unconstitutional has been an advancement for females here in South Korea,” said Irene Kim (10), AP US History student. “The shift towards allowing women to decide for themselves about their bodies is a hopeful aspect I hope to see being continued.”
Alabama’s decision has served as a model for other states such as Georgia or Missouri to propose and initiate “heartbeat bills,” which state that the fetus cannot be aborted if a heartbeat is detected through medical examination. As states increasingly support pro-life, the controversy surrounding abortion deepens and so does the rift between the two political parties, the Democrats and Republicans.