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Ban on Abortion in Alabama: Should Men Have a Statement in the Debate?

10 Alabama Republican state senatorsCopyright image

Most US states that banned or severely restricted access to abortions were voted by male politicians. Do men have the right to decide on a matter that so intimately affects women?

Corridors that led to the Senate in Alabama are arranged with black and white photos of past legislative sessions – each framed poster as a page of the year from a special school for men only.

But, inside the small public gallery, looking down on the Senate floor, many places are filled with women. They are young and old, some in suits and some in bright shirts with pro-choice slogans decorated forwards.

They see the drama that appears in the chamber below, as several Democrats and even fewer women explain their outrage over the ban on abortion that will pass in just hours, and will become law in a day.

The activists next to me in the gallery laugh and sigh with every argument and answer. Some call "Amen!" in line with how the debate continues.

When a female lawmaker moves to the microphone, she says: "We do not organize police men in the way we police women – and this decision on the issue of women is so intimately done almost entirely by men.

Although women make up 51% of the population in Alabama, its deputies are 85% men. There are only four women in the Senate of 35 seats in Alabama, all of them Democrats.

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Media titleThe new law in Alabama makes abortion illegal in almost all cases

However, outside the white walls of the State House on Tuesday night, women were in the majority. Groups of choice supporters shouted for hours in the yard, holding signs calling for freedom of abortion, only for women to decide what was going on with their bodies.

Delany Burlingham, one of the young election activists I met there, told me: "These people do not care about protecting human rights. It's about women's control."

"They just want to be able to say," I control what's happening in your body. ""

So, should men be included in this debate?

The Alabama abortion ban – one of the few drives in the threefold increase in anti-abortion legislation – has fueled the debate over another key issue: should men in this battle be involved at all?

Internet forums like Reddit and social platforms like Twitter and Facebook are reinforced with arguments for both sides. Yes – these laws affect everyone, including men. No – just women get pregnant, so why should we let people decide?

Travis Jackson was one of the few men who joined the protests outside the capital Montgomery, wearing a shirt saying: true men support women's rights.

But Mr Jackson would not offer his own opinion on abortion, but instead he wants to remain silent about the specifics, because "women are the only experts when it comes to their bodies."

"When it comes to the debate about abortion, I think men should say that the right of a woman is to be chosen," he explains.

"It's their body, it's their choice, and that's their business. No man has the right to tell the woman what is right for their body."

Jordan Kisser is against abortion, but says he believes Jackson's decision is "honest" and that men should "share their privilege".

"Believe women, you trust women. If they tell you that they feel in a certain way or that this is their experience, you [as a man] do not say no, it's not, "he says.

Mr Kizer is part of a group of new wave of feminists in Austin, Texas, which is trying to promote women's rights as a means of abortion eventually "unthinkable and unnecessary."

"I think a woman should absolutely say something over her body, just pulling the line between her body and this other body that is inside her body," he says. "I know it's inconvenient to make it distinct for some."

On the other side of the debate, Oren Jacobson, founder of the Men4Choice Advocacy Group, also believes that the problem affects everyone – but that male allies should fight for women to have the freedom to make any decision they choose.

"Too many men who elect an election think this is just a" women's issue "and that's not their place. This is an issue that affects all of us and will require all of us to get involved if we want to create a society in which everyone is free to follow the life they imagine for themselves and their families. "

Mr Jacobson tells me that the problem is not really about abortion, but about freedom and control.

"No one can be free if they do not control their own body, their own health care and their reproductive decisions. The role of men is to advocate for the basic freedom and dignity of all people."

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Media titleDina had to give birth to a child of a rapist – women had no choice under Alabama's abortion ban

Anti-abortion activists, however, argue that putting the burden of choice entirely on a woman is alienating men and allowing them to evade the responsibilities of paternity.

Derrick Jones, communications director for the oldest US anti-abortion group, the National Committee on the Right to Life (NRLC), told me that men should be involved in the discussions because "statistically, half of children interrupted each year are men".

"To say that this is a woman's issue, it lacks the point that it is much greater than that. It's a matter of human rights. Let's say, you're a man, you do not carry this kid, to reject the idea that men can to have an opinion on human rights is an insult ".

Mr Jones adds that "absolutely" should be more female representation when it comes to legislative bodies like Alabama, but notes that many of the leaders of the anti-abortion movement are women.

Women are equally divided about men

Carroll Clarke was one of the first protestors to appear before the state house in Montgomery, and she stayed on the night until the law passed the Senate.

"Let a woman decide what to do with her body," she said, a voice to burst with emotion. "It's not his body, that's her body."

This view is repeated by most women we talked about in Alabama; that women should dictate abortion laws because women must carry the baby, have to deal with social and medical repercussions of pregnancy and have a child.

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Media title"Abortion is wrong" – women in Alabama respond to the law transmitted there

But on the streets of downtown Montgomery – and many other states in the United States with conservative affections – there are many women against giving that choice.

Some are tainted – as a mother who can only say she is opposed to abortion, but is "complicated" – but others are as strict as some Republican lawmakers – as two young women who told me about abortion should be banned, even and in cases involving rape, incest or maternal health.

Catherine Coyle, a psychologist and advocate for men's health and rights, says giving women "unilateral power in abortion decisions is inconsistent with the notion of gender equality".

"As equal citizens [men] they should certainly have the right to express their opinion on the topic of abortion, "says Ms. Coyle." As co-creators of life, they should be recognized as having a legitimate interest in protecting that life. "

Where do most Americans stand?

For the entire debate, the state's views on abortion are largely the same, even on gender lines.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center in 2018, 60% of women say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 57% of men agreeing.

About 60% of Black and White Americans surveyed also supported legal abortion in most cases, although support was less for Hispanic Americans with 49%.

But, on the lines of choice or against abortion, a Gallup survey of 2018 showed that the country is divided equally. Even in women, 48% were identified as pro-choice and 47% as anti-abortion.

Gallup also announced that while about eight out of 10 Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or in some circumstances, further examination of their attitudes finds that the public favors more restrictive than less restrictive laws.

Are men really doing these laws?

It is true that in countries with more conservative abortion laws, men make up a larger percentage than legislatures.

In Alabama, although the governor who signed the law on abortion in the law is a woman, the Center for American Women and Politics of the Rutgers University (CAWP) still ranks Alabama as 47 out of 50 in terms of female representation in the legislature.

And while women had great benefits in holding public office during the mid-term 2018 election, the vast majority of those new lawmakers were Democrats supporting election laws.

Analysts at the Washington Post of state legislatures in Alabama, Missouri and Georgia have found that out of 367 abortion votes, seven out of eight voted in favor of men – mostly republican men. Out of a total of 154 against votes in the chambers, more than half were from women, although most women MPs, even at the state level, are Democrats.

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Alabama Governor Kei Ivy signed the law to combat abortion

In the four countries that have passed six-week abortion bans – heart rate bills – this year women make up an average of 23 percent of national legislation, according to CAWP. Mississippi is the lowest of that group and the nation, with women owning only 13% of the seats.

Despite this, anti-abortion activists quickly say that the Alabama ban was sponsored by state congressman Terry Collins and was signed by one of several female governors, Kay Ivy.

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of the New Wave feminists, adds: "The irony is that older white people who gave us Ro [vs Wade] in the first place. "

"We are striving to choose which older white men we want to agree on. You need to overcome this and realize that many people in this [anti-abortion] the movement is very diverse, and we are female. "

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