Still, other women said they were alarmed by the limits emerging from the Legislature and the governor’s office, which opponents have vowed to challenge in court.
“It’s insulting as an educated woman — in consultation with my highly educated doctor — that I can’t come to a decision that’s best for me and for my health,” said Erin Arnold, who lives in Birmingham and teaches biology. “A woman should have agency over her body.”
She added: “I sometimes wonder if Alabama is the state to raise my children. I waver. When laws like this pass, it’s frustrating.”
A culture of silence about women’s health is pervasive in many of the state’s 67 counties.
“Girls and women do not talk about their health issues here,” said Emily Capilouto, 31, who also lives in Birmingham. “You turn to those close to you when these issues arise, but now we are talking about it on a state level and nationally because of what’s happening, but I don’t know that there are larger conversations going on in the community.”
Beyond highly limited abortion access, critics of the bill contend that the restrictions distract from Alabama’s endemic problems and further threaten a deeply troubled health care network that offers the state’s roughly two million women few options for specialized care, especially in rural areas.
Across the state, there are fewer than 500 obstetricians and gynecologists, and in almost half of Alabama’s counties, there are no doctors who specialize in the health of women. In crucial barometers of health care quality, including infant mortality and deaths of women during childbirth, Alabama has some of the nation’s worst figures.
“If you argue the point that this is a matter of life for children, there is no evidence from birth to death that Alabama is in any way concerned about the lives of children,” said Wayne Flynt, one of the state’s leading historians. “There is a profound difference between being pro-fetus, in which I think Alabama’s credentials are pretty solid, and pro-life.”