Republicans encourage nationwide support for Alabama abortion ban, document reveals

Students for Life is also leading a group of anti-abortion groups arguing that rape and incest exceptions should be reconsidered

Lily Puckett
New York
@lilypuckett
Friday 24 May 2019 17:04
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Abortion laws: In which states is it illegal?

A document containing approved Republican talking points regarding Alabama’s near-total abortion ban has been uncovered.

The ban is set to go into effect in 2020 and multiple members of the state legislature have said that overturning Roe v Wade is the intention of the ban.

Entitled “Messaging in the Minority,” the document was produced on Wednesday by the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of House Republicans, and obtained by Vice News. It offers “messaging guidance” on the GOP’s anti-abortion platform, and is labelled as “strictly OFF-THE-RECORD.” Vice News did not say how the document was obtained.

The document instructs Republicans to insist that abortion is "murder," and "traumatic" for the person undergoing the operation. The document does not offer statistics, sources, or seemingly any research or resources at all to back its claims. It appears to offer a guideline to talk around comparatively moderate Republicans, who have called the ban extreme.

Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, told The Independent that the organisation will file a lawsuit against the ban, alongside Planned Parenthood, soon. He expects the case to take at least three years, based on past experiences, but stressed that abortion would remain legal in Alabama for now.

Mr Marshall has been with the ACLU of Alabama for six years, and says that since his first week, "at least one if not two" abortion access cases have been on their books at all times. The difference between previous tactics and now, he says, is the bluntness of the bans.

“For years, these same folks who offered up this bill came up with restrictions and they said, it's all about women's health,” Mr Marshall said. “This now lays bear the lie that they've been telling for years now. This isn't about women’s health at all; this is about controlling choices.”

Non-legislative groups are also pushing for stricter laws. NPR was given access to a letter written by a coalition of anti-abortion groups led by Students for Life. The letter asks Republican leadership to "reconsider decades-old talking points" regarding rape and incest, in hopes of backing laws like Alabama’s.

Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins, who is herself not a student, told NPR that she thinks now is the time to “start having the conversation.”

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a senior staff attorney at ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, told The Independent that polling suggests otherwise.

“These extreme bans are actually really totally out of touch with what Americans feel these days,” Miss Kolbi-Molinas said of the 14 bans restricting access to abortion currently sweeping the nation. “Polling shows us that the majority of Americans think abortion should be safe, legal, and supported.”

Still, with support from the highest offices trickling down, there’s a strong determination on the right to back near-total abortion bans, even when they ignore women’s health, physically and emotionally, entirely.

On the left, a handful of anti-abortion lawmakers still hold their positions, but The Democrats say their commitment to pro-choice laws stands strong.

"The national Democratic Party opposes these abortion bans or any infringement on women's reproductive freedom in the strongest possible terms," Elizabeth Renda, Women’s Media Director for the DNC told The Independent.

"We have been extremely clear about where we stand on reproductive rights, and our platform demonstrates our commitment to preserving a woman's fundamental right to make decisions about her own body with her doctor," Miss Renda continued. "The abortion bans sweeping the country are part of a targeted effort to overturn Roe v. Wade, and they will put women's lives at risk by barring their access to safe, legal abortion. As a party, Democrats remain committed to protecting women and their access to the health care they deserve."

This post has been updated to include a response from the DNC.

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