On most days, I find Alabama to be a pretty nice place to live. The state has a lot of biodiversity, thanks to the extensive waterways throughout the state, and pretty good weather if you don’t mind the heat. Plus, if you like football and beauty queens there is no better place to be. If you don’t like those things Alabama won’t relent until you do. People, myself included, like Alabama’s easy-going nature. But don’t be fooled by the casual attire and slow pace around here, for many in the state life is not so laid back.
For example, it isn’t laid back for immigrants. In 2011, Alabama passed some of the toughest immigration legislation in the nation. Much like Arizona’s law, parts of it were struck down by the appellate courts. But yesterday, Alabama’s Attorney General appealed to the US Supreme Court in the hopes of re-instating the ban on concealing or harboring undocumented aliens.
And if you find yourself on the wrong side of the religious right you might not find much freedom here. The religious right have quite the crusader in Roy Moore, the new (again) Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He will continue his fight to bring God back into the criminal justice system and protect the state from homosexuals and baby-killers. He was sworn in last Friday.
But Roy Moore was not responsible for the latest low in Alabama. In the decision Ex Parte Ankrom vs. Alabama and Ex Parte Kimbrough vs. Alabama, the Alabama Supreme Court re-affirmed a lower courts decision to treat unborn children as equal to born children in the eyes of the law, specifically in regards to the chemical endangerment statute. On the same day Roy Moore was sworn in, anti-abortionist achieved a victory for “personhood”. One of the dissenting Justices was Moore’s predecessor. In his dissent, former Chief Justice Malone wrote:
Whether the chemicals that are harmful to the unborn child are legal or illegal, their ingestion or use by a woman who has conceived has become a felony even though the act that is criminalized is committed without knowledge or intent…Furthermore, the majority’s opinion raises these concerns with every expectant mother, in a number of complex situations that are significantly impacted by religious faith, racial background, economic status, and the nature of the conception, among many things.
This new ruling increases the state’s ability to monitor and prosecute pregnant women. It enables the state of Alabama to treat fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs as legally separate from pregnant women. It criminalizes the behavior of pregnant women. And it makes life for pregnant women in Alabama a lot less laid back. With Roy Moore back on the bench, things are not likely to improve.