- Posted March 6, 2014 by
No Representation in Alabama
Tuesday, Feb 25, the Alabama House Health Committee passed four anti-abortion bills that would effectively ban abortion after eight weeks and made it harder for women carrying fetuses which would not survive the pregnancy to get abortions. Yet four of the fifteen representatives don’t have email addresses listed on the Health Committee’s website. Those that do have email don’t respond.
That’s right. Four representatives - Laura Hall, April Weaver,Ed Henry, and John Knight didn’t immediately have their email addresses listed. Mary Sue McClurkin, sponsor of House Bill 490, also does not have a listed email address; the link to her website does not work.
I did call their offices and received email addresses, but why did I have to dig for them? I was also told that at least one of those inboxes were full and unlikely to be checked.
I did not receive a response to any of the emails sent to those members with listed addresses.
So if the representatives aren’t checking their inboxes, how can you get your opinions heard? Without easy forms of communication, elected representatives are just politicians - they’re not representing you. While a public hearing was held for these bills so the public could speak, the turnout was surprisingly low.
The four anti-abortion bills were considered in a public hearing Wednesday, Feb 19 at 9 am in Montgomery. The public could travel to the statehouse and voice their opinions. However, the largest number of people speaking on any of the four bills was six.
House Bill 489 had one person speaking in favor and four people speaking against. House Bill 490 had two people speaking in favor, four against. House Bill 493 had one person speak in favor, three against, and House Bill 494 had one person speaking in favor, four against.
These numbers are pretty low. Not even seven people total spoke for any one bill. Not seven out of the thousands of people in each district.
Personally, I would have loved to travel to Montgomery to speak against all four of the bills. But, like many people living in Alabama, I couldn’t get away from class and work on a Wednesday at 9 am.
So if you can’t email or visit, what do you do? To find about how I could voice my opinions in my own district, I called my representatives. There are two, and I got no response from either Greg Burdine or Lynn Greer. At the Statehouse, I was told to call Rep. Burdine’s district for more information, as the House is not in session. But all I got at the district number was a legal secretary’s voice mail. I have not received a call back.
At Rep. Greer’s office, I also got no response. At the Statehouse, the recording told me that this number did not subscribe to the voicemail service. I left a message at his district number but have received no response as of this writing.
All of this adds up to one conclusion: I’m not being represented. My emails and calls have gone largely unanswered. My voice is lost. And now, I’m in danger of losing my most basic rights as a woman.
The story here is more about the lack of accessibility, but the effect is also important. These bills will demolish freedom.
The outright ban of abortion is the most flagrantly unconstitutional attack on freedom I’ve seen in a while. It’s a veritable war on women. But it doesn’t just pose problems for women; there are many more flaws with these four bills, such as the fact that they:
1. Cost taxpayers money. This is because they are unconstitutional. These bills will be challenged by people who do not care to wage war on women. It’s already been done in other states that have passed similar bills. So they will be appealed at taxpayer cost.
2. Ignore legal precedent. These bills go against what higher courts have been ruling on for years. It’s a waste of time.
3. Does not address the societal problems that cause abortion. If lawmakers invested in social welfare programs, brought sexual offenders to justice, and backed comprehensive (not abstinence-only) sex education, we might not have that much of a need for abortions in the first place.
4. The Health Committee did not listen. This is the most important flaw in these bills. The representatives are not making themselves readily available.
And let’s not forget that by excluding the ability to be contacted via email, an important demographic is being left out: young people. I believe that young people would most likely communicate with representatives via email, yet they cannot do so. In the larger scope of things, a basic form of communication is being sealed off for many people, no matter their age.
If you can’t make your voice heard, how you are being represented? How does your opinion make any difference?
There is still time. The four bills must pass through the House floor and Senate before becoming law. If this is an important issue for you, now is the time to make your case before it’s too late. Don’t take no for an answer.
The lesson to be learned here is to vote carefully, choosing representatives who actually do their job, instead of wasting time and money. When midterms come, get to the polls! It may be the only time your opinion makes a difference.