Last night, Alabama lawmakers gleefully passed a bill that, if signed by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, will effectively ban abortions in the state. In passing a near-total abortion prohibition—with the only exception being when the mother’s life is at serious risk, and no exceptions for rape or incest—Alabama Republicans brought the party closer to one of its biggest and most longstanding goals than it has ever been before: stripping anyone with a womb of their basic human rights.
In passing the bill, Republican legislators like state Sen. Clyde Chambliss weighed the concerns of those opposed to the bill making it a felony for doctors to perform abortions with the exact level of seriousness that you’d expect:
Chambliss and his ilk know people will die because of this law, because no one cares this much abortion without taking the time to understand the repercussions of banning it. They understand. They simply don’t care.
Donald Trump (and Mitch McConnell) enabled this by selecting two right-wing Catholics to give conservatives a firm majority on the Supreme Court, along with other policy actions the administration has taken over the past two years. But this is not a monster solely of Trump’s making. The 2012, 2008, and 2004 national platforms of the Republican Party—the GOP of George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney—included a call to ban abortions with a constitutional amendment, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
Nor can the Alabama law be neatly defined by those on the coasts as the actions of a bunch of backward southerners from deep red states attempting to enshrine the King James Version in state law. Earlier this month, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a “fetal heartbeat” law banning abortions after six weeks, following Ohio’s move to do the same back in April. As CBS News reported earlier this week, an 11-year old who was allegedly raped by a 26-year old and became pregnant wouldn’t have been able to obtain an abortion in her home state if the pending law was in effect.
These anti-abortion laws being passed in states all over the country, in some demented race to be the state named in the Supreme Court case that could finally overturn Roe, are the primal scream of the GOP and the American conservative project. It checks so many boxes at once: the wholesale rejection of feminism, bodily autonomy, secularism, class warfare against the poor and marginalized, and other challenges to the patriarchy and other hierarchies in American society. This is the Republican Party in its purest, rawest, and most debased form.
Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio are just the start. Other Republican-controlled states will continue to pass these laws, largely without fear of suffering the consequences due to gerrymandering or simply the political realities of that particular state.
These laws are also the best case for why compromise between Democrats and Republicans on the biggest issues of the day is no longer just untenable, but morally repugnant. No one of conscience can compromise with a party which is now firmly rooted in far-right Christianity, or wait for a post-Trump “epiphany” that finally returns the Republican Party to the ideological descendants of Arlen Specter. To compromise now means, as it has for at least the past decade and probably longer, to throw vulnerable people under the bus.
The rot goes deeper than Trump and Alabama, and the only way to beat it is through collective action, a fierce commitment to winning, and governing with a progressive vision once you win—in this case, expanding abortion access rather than simply letting the right define the terms of the debate. This is why “litmus tests,” such as supporting choice without limitations or apology, are important. And while it remains to be seen whether the Democratic Party—or any other organization of the American left or center-left—is structurally capable of taking on the GOP, the alternative is this: more death and less freedom, just the way the good lord intended it.