The Poor Women and Children of Alabama

If Alabama legislators and Governor Kay Ivey were actually pro-life, they would do something about the miserable health, educational, and economic outcomes for the poor women and children of their state. Instead, the new bill criminalizing abortion and creating “personhood” for an implanted embryo  will make life in Alabama much, much harder.

Clearly you can’t appeal to these legislators on the basis of decency, or humanity. The only way I can think of is to introduce a raft of bills that will direct scarce state tax dollars to these newly-declared persons: health benefits. Child support. Passports. Social Security cards. Welfare and food stamps. Voter registration cards. The sky’s the limit.

The legislators and Governor Ivey will certainly swat such bills aside. But the hypocrisy will be all the more clear.

The problem is that organizing like that takes money, and volunteers, and effort. These are big asks in the lives of poor people. There was a constituency of young energetic people, during the 1960’s, to mobilize against the draft and the Viet Nam war. There was a constituency in the South for voting rights and to end lynching. There was a constituency, after Stonewall, for gay rights.

There’s no big, energetic constituency to advocate for the lives of poor women and children, not then, not now.

I’ve seen articles suggesting that young people flocking to cities of the “new South” because of the cheaper cost of living will no longer want to live there now that the South’s deeply ingrained racism and misogyny come roaring back to the surface, that corporations won’t be able to hire and attract young people as these ugly laws are enacted. That’s a pretty thin reed of hope for the poor.

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