Tomorrow, 31 men and three women will decide whether virtually all abortions will be banned in Alabama, pending Governor Ivey’s signature.
Alabama has the sixth lowest percentage of female legislative representation in the country. Women make up just over 15 percent of the Alabama legislature, but only 11 percent of the state Senate, leaving the issues that primarily affect women to men. There are four women in the Alabama state Senate, but one is not expected to be there for Tuesday’s vote due to illness.
“When it comes to women’s health, when male lawmakers pass bills on women’s health and reproductive systems, they can do so with a poor understanding of how those systems work,” Elyse Shaw, director of ‘study at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research
According to a study by the women’s research group, Status of Women in the States, Alabama ranks last among states for women, tied with Mississippi, earning it the title of “worst state for women. the women “. The ranking took into consideration the high rates of heart disease, diabetes and chlamydia among Alabama women, as well as the state’s wage gap. Women earn an average of $ 34,400 per year compared to the average salary of men of $ 46,000.
The Abortion Ban Bill, which would ban nearly all cases of abortion, was sponsored by one of 18 women in the Alabama House of Representatives – Terri Collins – but was co-sponsored by 67 other representatives, including five other Republican women.
Collins has previously said directly that the purpose of his legislation is to get the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and that is why she opposes any attempt to add language to the bill that would make exceptions for victims of rape or incest.
“There has been a lot of research done [about] having more women in power brings a diversity of understanding of the laws that are passed, ”said Shaw. “When there are more women elected, more resources are allocated to local constituencies, especially at the congressional level, ensuring that more money is spent on health care and education.”
State Senator Vivian Figures said she was frustrated with the lack of women in the legislature. Last week, the numbers spoke to Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, after quickly leading a voice vote on whether to remove a rape and incest amendment from the Abortion Ban Bill.
“I know this bill will pass. You’re going to be successful, ”Figures said last Thursday. “At least treat us fairly and do it the right way. That’s all I ask. That is all my Democratic colleagues are asking for. That’s all the women of this state are asking for, both Democratic and Republican women.
The numbers indicate that the legislature needs more women, but not more women who will stick only to voting with a party platform. As one of four women in the room last week, she felt the need to make sure everyone’s voice was heard.
“I feel empowered to make my voice heard,” Figures said. “That’s all I can do. As long as you do this and that is why we are fighting so hard.
Figures is currently working to change the wording of Alabama’s rape requirements laws. Under current Alabama rape laws, a victim must prove “serious resistance,” or that she has retaliated against the perpetrator.
Meanwhile, Representative Dickie Drake, R-Leeds, introduced a bill that would criminalize falsely accusing someone of a sex crime, a bill that sexual assault advocates say would render more difficult for victims of sexual assault to come forward.
This is one of at least four bills – all drafted by men from Alabama – that relate primarily to women, including a bill requiring minors to present birth certificates to obtain an abortion.