Sh*t Home Alabama: The Abortion Bill during Women's Health Week

Sh*t Home Alabama: The Abortion Bill during Women's Health Week

©Emily Rose Larsen. “Summer 2016, after surgery #2, recovery” from her series  With Grace.  Courtesy of Andrea Blanch.

©Emily Rose Larsen. “Summer 2016, after surgery #2, recovery” from her series With Grace. Courtesy of Andrea Blanch.

By Ashley Yu

In 1968, the most blood-curdling image was splashed in all the newspapers, all the headlines, all the posters on the street. What was it? It was a photograph of 28-year-old Gerri Santoro: naked, on her knees, a blood-soaked towel between her legs, dead. She was from Connecticut, and a mother of two--on her way to having a third. But she feared she would be killed for it, for she was having the child with her boyfriend, and not her violent, abusive husband. She stuck a catheter up her cervix to induce an abortion with a medical textbook in front of her face. She started hemorrhaging. Her boyfriend fled the scene while she bled out onto a motel towel. We won’t show this horrifically gruesome photograph of her corpse (though if you want to see the true horrors of illegal abortions, the Google search bar is right there), but that photograph was the photograph for the Pro-Choice movement.

That was 50 years ago. This week--ironically enough during Women’s Health Week--that is the reality for women in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio. the second the bills were passed in those aforementioned states, Gerri Santoro’s death (or murder, if you want to go that far) is the reality all women in America will face. In Ohio and Georgia, the Heartbeat Bill bans women who are 6-weeks pregnant from getting an abortion; in Alabama, abortions are basically illegal, with no exception for incest and rape, and doctors who carry out abortions will be sentenced to 99 years imprisonment. And to think, Brock Turner--an actual convicted rapist-- received only 3 months in jail.

3 states, 5 more to go: other Midwestern states (e.g. Utah, Kentucky, and Arkansas) will soon follow suit. According to the New York Times, it will take nearly a year to overturn Roe v. Wade. And if it ever does, Gerri Santoro will not be the only woman who died that way. I’m not going to feed you the same outrage that has been flooding social media, about how women are being objectified under the state or how the Alabama bill was passed by a bunch of sexist, white bastards. If you’re reading this, there is a ninety percent chance you already know this. What I want to talk about is that black and white photograph of Gerri Santoro, because once you see that image, it hits you like a damn freight train. It makes your hands tremble. It makes you want to vomit. And she will not be the only one.

There is a litany of cruelties that have already come out: an 11-year-old child in Ohio will be forced to give birth to her pedophile rapist’s child. A rape victim in Michigan will be forced to give birth, to raise that child, to be a loving mother--all while sharing custody the man who violated her.

The wives, daughters and sisters of those male lawmakers do not ever need to fear for the violation of women’s rights. They will always have the money to send their loved ones out of state to get an abortion. The law is targeted at those entrapped in poverty--usually women of color, who are unable to even get medicine, nevermind an outlawed procedure. 50 years ago, Gerri Santoro bled to death, alone in a dingy motel room, because there was no other options. Are we letting this happen again?

As Women’s Health Week comes to an end, you can still help protect women’s rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio by:

  • Donating to local, grassroots organizations

  • Volunteer as a clinic escort, if you reside in those states

  • Speak out

  • Donate to Planned Parenthood and ACLU, who will be starting legal procedures to fight against these bills

Outside the Frame: Interview with Annka Kultys

Outside the Frame: Interview with Annka Kultys

Musée Limited Editions:  Ken Pivak

Musée Limited Editions: Ken Pivak