International

Abortion ban divides US

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THE US is a country where the Christian evangelical right are holding increasing sway on legislation, with probably the most graphic example being this week’s banning of abortion in Alabama. Never the most progressive of the US states, lawmakers in the Deep South region passed the law by 25 votes to six, not even allowing exemptions for rape or incest. Asked if a 12 year old girl who was raped by a relative and became pregnant would have to have the child, supporters said that was indeed the case.

All of this is seen as the lead-up to a challenge of the famous 1973 Roe versus Wade ruling which effectively legalised abortion in the US. A number of other states have already severely limited terminations using the “heartbeat law” where it is illegal when a foetal heartbeat can be detected. This is usually around six weeks and far too early for many women to realise they are pregnant. Supporters said “our bill says that a baby in a womb is a person” while detractors said “the bill criminalises doctors (who face up to 99 years in jail for carrying out the procedure) and is telling women what to do with their bodies”.

Hardly known for his religious convictions until he saw it as a path to the presidency, Donald Trump has now surrounded himself with evangelical Christians such as Vice President Mike Pence. 25% of Christians in the US now classify themselves as evangelicals, who take the word of the Bible literally, both Old and New Testament, from Noah’s Ark to the creation of the Earth by God in seven days 6,000 years ago. Unlike more mainstream Christianity they see it as their mission on Earth to convert people to their belief system, including by legislation if necessary such as the new laws in Alabama.

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