I spent a large portion of my childhood in Alabama. Birmingham to be exact. It’s called the Magic City, but I never figured out why because there’s was nothing magical about it.
There were some great parts about living in Alabama. You could ride a new bike on Christmas morning. You were only a few hours away from a beautiful coastline, although the beach never seemed warm enough during spring break, at least not for people who lived in the South. The trees and flowers and greenery in Alabama were beautiful. As a child, there was no shortage of “woods” to get lost in. Plus, foods like monkey bread, boiled peanuts, and moonpies tasted great (yes, I do love boiled peanuts but I accept that it’s an acquired taste). Oh, and people were incredibly nice. Really nice. Unbelievably nice. Frequently with an emphasis on the unbelievable part.
See, what I remember most is that everything in the Deep South centered around outward appearances. You looked like you were being sweet, so obviously you were sweet. You looked sincere, therefore you were. You looked put together and in control (that’s why you put on lipstick and fixed your hair before running to the Winn-Dixie to pick up tampons and toilet paper), so you must be. You looked like you cared, so you did, right?
That’s why it didn’t surprise me when I heard about this week’s bullshit abortion legislation in Alabama. It’s a show. Legislators in the state have even admitted as much. In this case, it’s an empty effort to try to get some high court to overturn Roe v. Wade. But I’d argue that the show is actually deeper than Roe v. Wade. I’d argue that these people don’t give the tiniest rat’s ass about the 1973 decision that deemed restrictive rules prohibiting abortion as unconstitutional. Their goal instead is to show that they have power. And for some reason, abortion has always been caught of this political pissing match.
Look, if any of the Alabama legislators (or any pro-life activist) actually gave a shit about babies that weren’t their own, they’d be equally as focused on what happens outside of the womb. Our healthcare system would be accessible by everyone. There would be no poverty. Hunger would be eradicated (and healthy food choices would be available and accessible to everyone). Gun violence wouldn’t exist. Children would be guaranteed at least one parent who was supportive and gave a damn. Homeless would be nothing more than a literary concept. Acceptance and tolerance would extend to every child and every person, regardless of religion, gender identity, color of skin, ethnic background, who they fell in love with, or what they wanted to do with their own bodies. Our education system would be incredibly well-funded rather than weak and anemic, and it would provide equal opportunities and access for all, no matter how much wealth a family had or hadn’t accumulated. And every child who exited the womb would honestly have a chance to do something amazing — a real chance at success, not some bullshit one filled with societal hurdles that are easily maneuvered only by light-skinned, native English speakers with a wallet full of cash.
That, however, isn’t what’s driving any of these legislators. What is driving them is the opportunity to show that they can effect change through their attempts to turn the clock back almost 50 years, which, 46 years ago, was at least 50 years too late.
These are the same legislators and Alabamians who were also obsessed with football and team sports when I lived there. It’s something I never really understood either, especially since it was college football and the state then and now has a lower-than-average percent of residents who even attend college. They’ve applied this same my-team v. your-team approach to social justice. The right-wing team has the ball and is doing its damnedest to get it into the endzone, which is now overseen by fresh, new referees (or judges) who might be willing to let some sketchy maneuver through.
It’s not sincere. But if the moves they’re making to overturn abortion rights work, these team-players will finish the game looking like winners. No, they won’t do anything that would actually ensure the lives they claim to be protecting have the “chance” that they also like to claim all babies (more accurately, fetuses) deserve, but that doesn’t matter. Deep down, what appears to matter most to anyone who’s trying to eliminate abortion access is that they’re finally on the winning side, and that their team is able to go the distance and surmount a 46-year losing streak. The impact of the game? Well, it really doesn’t matter now does it.