Here's What You Need to Know About Amendment 2

Are you a resident of the state of Alabama? Well, on November 6, Alabama citizens are voting on a new Amendment to our State Constitution, and it has some serious implications for the future of reproductive freedoms.

As a citizen of any state, you should always vote and speak up for what you stand for, but you should also make sure you are fully informed about the policies and the people you are voting for.

Let’s take a closer look at this Amendment. The ballot title says:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended; to declare and otherwise affirm that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life in all manners and measures appropriate and lawful; and to provide that the constitution of this state does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”1

To investigate this Amendment, I interviewed Erica Webb, founder and president of Generation Action at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Generation Action is the Planned Parenthood student chapter at UAB, and their mission is “to empower and educate our members, our campus, and our community though voter registration drives, sex education, reproductive rights training and more.”2

Erica started Generation Action because she grew up in a small, rural town where a lack of sex education, consent education, and discussion about reproductive rights issues led to “a toxic culture of rape culture and teen pregnancy.” These problems inspired Erica to take action supporting women’s rights on campus by working with Planned Parenthood, volunteering with rape victims at the local crisis center, and fundraising for domestic violence survivors at the YWCA in Birmingham.

According to Erica and Generation Action, the language of Amendment 2 is very broad and ambiguous, so if it were to be added to Alabama’s Constitution, “it basically paves the way for Alabama to outlaw abortion in any and all circumstances.”

The Alliance for a Pro-life Alabama makes its case for Amendment 2, explaining that:

“The proposed amendment does not identify any specific actions or activities as unlawful. It expresses a public policy that supports broad protections for the rights of unborn children as long as the protections are lawful.

If a majority of voters vote ‘Yes’ on Amendment 2, the public policy of this state will be to support and protect the importance of unborn life and the rights of unborn children. The state constitution would also not include a right to an abortion or to the funding of an abortion using public funds.”3

Erica explains the implications of that broad language, drawing attention to the fact that restricting all abortions in Alabama takes away the woman’s right to choose, even in special cases like “rape, incest, and cases where the mother’s life is in danger.”

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade established that no state can outlaw abortion prior to fetal viability, though states can still regulate or ban abortion once the fetus is considered viable, or able to live outside the mother’s womb. Alabama currently prohibits abortion 20 weeks after fertilization.

However, it is possible for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. According to Trump, he “will be appointing pro-life judges,” and if the Supreme Court justices were to overturn Roe v. Wade, the jurisdiction of abortion would be given to state governments.4 Therefore, if Amendment 2 were to be passed and Roe v. Wade was ever overturned in the future, abortion would be illegal in Alabama without any exceptions.

Erica points out that Amendment 2 takes the focus off of “the underlying reasons, like why unplanned pregnancies happen in the first place.” In her opinion, if Alabama legislature focused on mandating comprehensive sex education or having more accessibility to birth control, abortion rates would naturally lower by preventing more unplanned pregnancies.

Planned Parenthood and Generation Action are responding by registering Alabama voters, encouraging all to vote, and providing voter education about the consequences of the language of Amendment 2.

If you are a UAB student interested in getting involved with Generation Action you can connect with them on Engage or email them at [email protected].

As citizens and voters in the United States, we have been given so many opportunities to voice our opinions and have a say in public policy, so whether you are pro-life, pro-choice, or somewhere in between, get out and vote! Take advantage of your rights as a citizen of this country and take part in determining what your rights will be in the future. Your voice matters.

 

References

  1. https://ballotpedia.org/Alabama_Amendment_2,_State_Abortion_Policy_Amendment_(2018)
  2. https://www.facebook.com/pg/uabgenerationaction/about/?ref=page_internal
  3. https://www.facebook.com/A4PLA/?__tn__=k*F&tn-str=k*F
  4. https://globalnews.ca/video/3014433/presidential-debate-chris-wallace-presses-donald-trump-to-clarify-his-position-on-abortion