During a recent debate between Alabama House lawmakers on a proposed law that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, the discussion took an abrupt turn from that of abortion legislation to one of appalling racial discrimination. Rep. Alvin Holmes (D) made the shockingly racist statement that pro-choice Republicans and whites would change their minds if their daughters were pregnant with a black man’s child and demand that they have an abortion. With his racist statement Holmes fundamentally and ignorantly challenged the premise of the pro-life stance, which is that life begins at conception and all life is sacred, regardless of race. He also insulted biracial families and their babies both within and outside the womb.
Rep. Holmes’s remarks came after the issue of race had been brought up by Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R) who compared the abortion heartbeat law to Brown vs. Board of Education, which was a 1954 Supreme Court case that ended public school segregation. Given the window of opportunity to interject his comments on biracial pregnancies, Holmes said that 99 percent of the white people in the Alabama House would claim to be pro-life but that that same 99 percent “if their daughter got pregnant by a black man” would force their daughters to have an abortion. He further stated that whites “ain’t gonna let her have the baby” and that “the truth sometimes hurts.” He also claimed that whites knew he was right but would never admit it.
The Alabama House lawmakers were in the process of debate over four separate abortion bills, which all passed and will be sent to the Senate for a vote. The most controversial of the bills would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, generally by six weeks which some have asserted would effectively make an abortion extremely difficult to get in the state of Alabama. The bill does contain exceptions in the case of a pregnancy that endangers the health of the mother but does not make exceptions in the case of incest or rape. If the law passes and a doctor performed an abortion after the detection of a heartbeat, it would be a felony.
The other three abortion bills debated by lawmakers included one that would require parental consent for minors seeking an abortion. Provisions in the bill would allow a minor to petition a judge to provide consent based on specific circumstances that indicated it would be in the minor’s best interest to get an abortion without parental knowledge. A second bill would extend the waiting period for abortions from 24 to 48 hours. Finally, a third bill would require that women seeking abortions because the child would be born with potentially life threatening medical disabilities be advised on the Hospice options available to them if they made the decision to carry the baby to full-term rather than abort.
Alabama Rep. Holmes took the debate on current abortion legislation to an ugly level with his vituperative and racist accusations against whites, Republicans and those who hold a pro-life position. His assertion that whites would force their daughters to have an abortion if the father of their baby was black is not only racist; it is patently unfounded and extremely offensive. The diverse population in the United States that includes biracial couples and their children would seem to refute Holmes’ claims and his remarks should be resoundingly rejected by all races, all genders, all political affiliations and both liberal and conservative media.
Opinion by Alana Marie Burke
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