Speaking Out for Women’s Health Rights!
By Melinda McKew
This Tuesday, Lisa and I hopped on a bus with other Planned Parenthood advocates to join roughly 200 other pro-choice activists in Alabama, protesting the recent maneuvers by Alabaman legislators to limit women’s reproductive rights. With other firm supporters of a woman’s right to choose—men included—we demonstrated to Alabaman legislators—only 5 of whom are women—that like Fannie Lou Hammer, we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.
While there were many bills to protest, we had gathered to speak out against HB 57, euphemistically known as a TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) bill. HB 57 seeks to restrict women’s access to reproductive choices by forcing abortion clinics to follow “hospital” standards, even though clinics aren’t, well, hospitals. Doctors performing abortions, for example, would need to have hospital admittance privileges, but nearly all doctors who perform abortions work independently of hospitals and rarely, if at all, have such admittance privileges.
In other words, HB 57 would likely shut down all abortion clinics in the state, leaving Alabaman women without the vital and necessary reproductive healthcare they rightly deserve. And unfortunately, late Tuesday night, the Alabama legislator passed HB 57 into law and sent it off to the Alabaman governor for approval.
Understandably, we’re all fairly upset by the Alabaman legislature’s decision, and I couldn’t be more disappointed in our so-called “representatives,” who clearly don’t care to represent 51% of their constituency, who don’t care about women and their rights, who don’t care if women die.
This decision also strikes a deep personal chord within me because if it weren’t for my local Planned Parenthood clinic, I would’ve been forced to carry a child to term when I was 14 years old. At the time, my father was in the military, and since the Hyde Amendment disallows federal funds for abortion, I had to seek abortion care services outside of my healthcare insurance.
For my family, this was quite a financial burden. We were already thousands of dollars in debt, and my mother was struggling to put food on the table. In fact, my mother had to charge my abortion to one of her many credit cards to ensure that her daughter had a chance to be something in the world.
And I wonder, what if my local Planned Parenthood hadn’t been there? What if I’d become pregnant in Alabama circa now? I doubt I’d be writing this blog post right now. I doubt I would’ve graduated college. I doubt I would’ve even graduated high school. I would’ve plunged my family further into poverty.
And this is what HB 57 will do to Alabaman women. HB 57 will take away women’s choice—a choice to better themselves, their families, and their communities. It’ll take away their future.
Melinda McKew is an Intern at Georgia WAND, and she's finishing her M.A. in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University. In addition to her work at Georgia WAND, she's a Board Member for the Georgia Reproductive Justice Access Network (GRJAN), a grassroots reproductive justice organization that provides low-income people with funds to help cover the costs of abortion care services.