Kay Ivey, Aunt Lydia, handmaids, abortion
"This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. This will become ordinary." — Kay ‘Aunt Lydia’ Ivey.Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

With young people overwhelmingly rejecting their ideology, Republicans across the US seem hell-bent on making one final push to take the country back to some misogynist Eden. There may not be a better example than the anti-choice laws several GOP-controlled states have pushed through this year.

Essentially, these laws sharply reduce the time frame during which women can legally have an abortion. Most of them limit lawful abortions to the first six weeks of a pregnancy. Alabama plunged even further into the Dark Ages by banning abortion outright in virtually all cases.

All these laws treat a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body with such contempt that ISIS would be proud. And the difference between how women are treated in Mobile and in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, is shrinking rapidly (now you might say that women in Alabama are at least allowed to drive, but we’ll get to that in a moment).

But let’s set aside the medieval ideology behind these laws and assume that women in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio are carrying persons around in their bodies six weeks after having had sex.

In that case, here are some questions we have for the Republicans who championed these laws:

Let’s circle back to women driving. In Alabama, children under the age of one “must ride in a rear-facing seat.” What does that mean for pregnant women carrying around a tiny person in their womb? Do they also have to sit in rear-facing seats? Are they (women, that is) even allowed to drive?

Can a pregnant woman in these states apply for child tax credits or welfare benefits if they skip a period?

What if a pregnant woman is convicted of a crime? Could a court even sentence her to prison knowing that an innocent person will be incarcerated with her? Are the children entitled to wrongful imprisonment settlements?

If a woman is pregnant with twins, could she be asked to leave a movie theater if she only paid for one ticket?

What if, for some reason, there is a curfew in place for minors. Does that mean a pregnant woman cannot go out?

What if a pregnant woman goes to a bar? Could she be charged with bringing a minor into an establishment serving alcohol?

Speaking of bars, does this mean a person can start drinking at age 20.5 because, according to these laws, they have been a person for 21 years? Can they vote before turning 18?

What about men who owe child support? Do they have to start paying six weeks after having sex (or, in Alabama, right away)?

If a baby constantly kicks its mother, could it face battery charges in juvenile court?

Here is one more question: Even Alabama’s law has a provision that an abortion is legal if the life of the mother is in danger. Why? If both the woman and the person in her body get equal protection under the law, then why always protect the mother? Why not flip a coin or let the mother die so the younger person can live?

It’s almost as though they are not both absolutely deserving of equal protection.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Kay Ivey caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), boots (Maria Rantanen / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), handmaid (Loz Pycock / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), Alabama flag (US Air Force), coat hanger (Stilfehler / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 4.0), GOP elephant (Republican Party / Wikimedia), and background (thom gill / Flickr – CC BY 2.0).

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from J. Stephen Conn / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0), Alabama seal (Sodacan / Wikimedia), and Georgia seal (State of Georgia / Wikimedia).

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Steve Ross

National media and Google do not help. The Alabama law is called a “heartbeat” law. But at 6 weeks there are no separate organs in the fetus. No heart. No heartbeat. That happens around the 17 week mark.

If you put this search into Google, “in gestation when does heart start beating?” almost all of the first page of results says 5 or 6 weeks. The fetus at this point is a bunch of undifferentiated cells about the size of a grain of rice. No heart. No blood, no veins or arteries, no brain. The “no brain” stuff I get.

Gary Cook

Nice bunch of false analogies. Once you create a life, you’re responsible for that life. No one, not the father, the mother or anyone else has a “right” to terminate that life. It’s a woman’s choice what to do with her body until it creates a separate body. Then that body has rights too. The right to live being pre-eminent.


Gary Cook – “Mr. Death” himself. What culture spawned such reprehensible, anti-human zealots?


6 weeks pregnant isn’t 6 weeks after conception… it’s 6 weeks from the start of your last period.


There were some interesting points raised in this article but it leaves out some other points (that are tough to answer from the pro-choice perspective). For example, if a pregnant woman is punched in the stomach, causing her to lose her pregnancy, is the person who did the kicking accused of murder or just assault?

By the way, is Who What Why planning to do any articles about the Julian Assange arrest and how it affects free speech, journalism, and the 1st amendment? I’m more than a little surprised that there hasn’t been ANY coverage on here since his arrest.

James Morgan

There is a much larger philosophical question here. What is the value of a newborn life in our society? In a country that tours the world killing and maiming with impunity, it is not surprising that life and new life have become nearly worthless; when pregnancy can become an inconvenience, we know we are on our way to self-destruction.

Ultimately, to force a woman to carry a healthy, but unwanted fetus to birth seems unfair. But in a society which truly cares about the value of life, this question would never arise and a woman would fulfill her sacred destiny with joy.

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