The only abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women's Health Organization, currently does not perform abortions past 16 weeks of pregnancy. And before ruling against a law that could have possibly close this clinic, Judge Carlton W. Reeves, a Jackson State University alumni and Obama appointee, offered a graphic scenario.
“So a child who is raped at 10 or 11 years old, that child does not open their mouth, doesn’t tell their parents, the rapist may be in their home, nobody discovers until it’s too late — that is a fetal heartbeat has been detected — that child must bring the fetus to term under this statute, if the fetal heartbeat can be detected," he admonished.
Before Reeves ruled against the bill, the anti-abortion bill passed without the support of the three Black female and nine Black male legislatures. One Black male was absent and three White Democrats joined the Black Democrats in a 34-15 defeat in a state that still includes the Confederate flag in its official state banner.
However, Florida Black Republican Representative Mike Hill, an evangelical Christian, is an exception to the flood of Black lawmakers who have sided with the right of women to control their own bodies. Hill plans to file a bill that would restrict abortions much more than the failed bill he backed last year. Unlike the failed bill, the new bill will not allow a woman to choose to have an abortion at any stage, even if the conception took place via “rape, incest, domestic violence, or human trafficking” or if the her life was in danger.
In response, former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum tweeted, “And we will fight you every step of the way, Mr. Hill.” Hill represents most of Escambia County, which is 64 percent White, non-Hispanic.
In Louisiana, where the State’s Democratic governor, Gov. John Bel Edwards, signed a bill that would ban women from terminating a pregnancy once a fetal heartbeat has been detected – with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, less than half of the Black Democratic Senators also broke party and ethnic ranks.
Senators Gregory Tarver, Regina Barrow, and Gerald Boudreaux joined the mostly White, Republican males to vote for the measure that passed in the Senate 31-5. The opposing five votes came from Black Democrats.
In response, former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum tweeted, “And we will fight you every step of the way, Mr. Hill.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden has also broken with the Democratic Party in restating his opposition to using federal money to pay for most abortions as outlined in the Hyde Amendment. Kelly Robinson, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's executive, director responded, “We encourage any candidate who doesn't recognize Hyde's impact to speak to the women it hurts most — particularly on women of color and women with low incomes — to learn more about the harmful impacts of this discriminatory policy."
Back in Alabama, Revered William Barber held a rally on the steps of the Alabama State House. There, Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign linked up with Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, Hometown Action, Greater Birmingham Ministries, Alabama Arise, and other groups to counteract the narrative from political leaders who claim to be pro-life while denying the laws and protections humans need to sustain life.
“What’s happening in Alabama right now has nothing to do with protecting life. What we’re really seeing is an attempt to give false moral cover to extremist politicians so they can hold up the Bible while they eliminate our rights to a living wage, healthcare, and the vote,” Barber said via email.
Note: After our initial publication, Joe Biden reversed course on his support for the Hyde admendment and the banning of federal funding for abortion.
From The Last Issue: Black Representative Seeks to Break Rank and Lead Anti-Abortion Bill