The passage of an Alabama law protecting the unborn from abortion at any stage in pregnancy last week sparked aggressive pro-abortion outrage on social media.
“I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically, and financially,” actress Jameela Jamil tweeted. She and others told stories of their abortions on Twitter using the hashtag #youknowme, started by actress Busy Philipps, to argue that abortion is a good thing.
“I wish my mom HAD aborted me, just to wait for when she was ready so my future sibling who would have been planned, have a happy life,” wrote Twitter user Kaoru Meamaru, who said she was conceived by rape.
Patrina Mosley, director of life, culture, and women’s advocacy at the Family Research Council, told me the Alabama bill’s passage was an encouraging next step for the pro-life movement.
“This bill protects the unborn, and it is the most logical abortion bill that I think we have ever seen if we believe that a person is a person from the moment of conception, and as a human being, entitled to rights,” she said. “But at the same time, seeing the backlash on the Alabama bill was devastating, to see that people can fight so aggressively for killing an innocent child in the womb.”
The Alabama Human Life Protection Act, or House Bill 314, prohibits abortion in all cases except when two physicians determine that it would prevent a “serious health risk” or when the baby has a lethal anomaly and could not survive outside the womb. Abortionists would face felony charges for violating the law, but mothers would not. The sponsors of the Alabama law have said they wrote it specifically to generate a court case that would challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that led to the legalization of abortion nationwide. The law has six months before it would take effect, and the American Civil Liberties Union has said it plans to file suit.
Many pro-life laws prior to Alabama’s measure focused on incremental protections for mothers and babies through informed consent, fetal burial, gestational age limits on abortion, or bills that protect babies from certain abortion methods. A law passed last week in Missouri, for instance, would protect babies from abortion as early as eight weeks into a pregnancy, but it also includes a ladder of optional cutoffs at 14, 18, or 20 weeks of gestation that would take effect if a court ruled against the law.
Missouri state Rep. Nick Schroer, a Republican who authored the bill, said his legislation is “made to withstand judicial challenges and not cause them.”
While pro-life advocates sometimes disagree on how best to roll back Roe, Americans United for Life senior counsel Clarke Forsythe told me that the battle for life doesn’t have two versions.
“The dichotomy is false that there’s incrementalism versus Alabama,” he said. “What we should be thinking about is not incrementalism but prudence, and achieving the greatest good possible given the opportunities and the obstacles.”
Amid the internet frenzy that followed the passage of the Alabama law, blogger Sarah Tuttle-Singer tweeted a challenge: “Dear Pro-Life friends: what have you *personally* done to support lower income single mothers? I’ll wait.”
More than 13,000 people replied to her question, mostly saying how they had helped women or donated their time and resources to groups that do.
“I had a single mother friend who I took into my home, we helped get her daughter into a decent school, introduced her into a caring, Christian community, then all of us helped her establish a home, furnish it, stock the kitchen, and find dignified work. Any other questions?” Twitter user Jenny S wrote.
Tuttle-Singer replied later that she was “moved by answers from pro-lifers” but had not changed her personal stance on abortion.
Whether or not the Alabama law ushers in a new pro-life era in the country, Forsythe said it’s a boon that pro-lifers keep promoting similar legislation: “It’s important for the [Supreme] Court to see the pro-life sentiment in these states and the rejection of Roe v. Wade and its legality, its lawfulness.”