WHEREAS, we live in an era of increasing hostility to women, in which authoritarian male leaders around the world and in our own country have given new life to misogynistic policies that are contrary to our hopes and ideals; and
WHEREAS, women’s rights are human rights, and bodily autonomy is essential to human dignity; and
WHEREAS, since early in the 20th century, and even before that, women have fought hard for the right to safe, legal reproductive health services and the right to determine whether and when to have children. The American Federation of Teachers has long supported these important rights; and
WHEREAS, Americans may differ based on faith or values concerning the question of when life begins, but in our nation, the rule of law must also be sacrosanct; Roe and its progeny are settled law concerning this question; and
WHEREAS, women are the majority of our members and need reproductive healthcare, which includes access to abortion. Reproductive freedom is a human right, and it includes the ability to have a healthy pregnancy; birth control that is safe, effective and free; abortion services that are available on demand and without encumbrance; infertility care; and preventive healthcare services such as mammograms, Pap tests and HPV screenings. All of these are necessary for women’s health; and
WHEREAS, research has consistently demonstrated that access to reproductive health services, including birth control and abortion, leads to higher educational attainment, increased economic security and a narrowed wage gap for women and girls. Women and girls who are denied abortions are more likely to have an income below the federal poverty level, more likely to receive public assistance and less likely to be working full time; and
WHEREAS, the issue of access to abortion is an economic issue as well. State abortion bans and restrictions fall most heavily on working-class women, who do not have the means to travel to states where abortion remains safe and legal; and
WHEREAS, women of color suffer disproportionately from restrictions on abortion rights due to institutionalized racism and lack of economic opportunity; these factors frequently lead to negative health outcomes that are only compounded by legal restrictions on their bodily autonomy; and
WHEREAS, Alabama has passed an extreme bill effectively eliminating reproductive rights and freedom in the state, criminalizing abortion at any stage of pregnancy and threatening doctors with up to 99 years in prison for providing an abortion; and
WHEREAS, this is the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, with no exception for rape or incest; and
WHEREAS, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed this clearly unconstitutional bill into law on May 15, 2019, and Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth stated explicitly that this law is designed to overturn the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, recognizing the unprecedented opportunity to overturn Roe with the court’s new conservative majority; and
WHEREAS, Alabama’s law is just one of several highly restrictive abortion bills passed in recent weeks, with others in Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi. Currently, at least 16 states are considering highly restrictive abortion bans designed to put before the Supreme Court a challenge to Roe v. Wade; and
WHEREAS, these laws are clear violations of the Roe decision, which ruled in 1973 that unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion violates the Constitution; and
WHEREAS, criminalizing abortions does not prevent pregnant people from seeking them out, and instead increases the number of unsafe abortion attempts; and
WHEREAS, according to the World Health Organization, unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide and lead to 5 million largely preventable disabilities each year; and
WHEREAS, overturning Roe would send us back to a reality where abortion was illegal. We know that means more women will die or be injured; and
WHEREAS, as educators, healthcare providers, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, we hold that women have a fundamental right to self determination, bodily autonomy and the decision of when and whether to become a parent; and
WHEREAS, the time for reactive approaches to anti-choice initiatives has come to an end; it is now time to take positive action to ensure women’s reproductive rights are codified in federal law:
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers renews its commitment to ensure that women maintain their right to reproductive choice and have access to all reproductive health services; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT opposes in the strongest possible terms Alabama’s illegal law banning abortion and will encourage our members to support grass-roots organizations fighting this law and others like it; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT opposes abortion bans and highly restrictive abortion laws everywhere, including those passed in Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi.
American Association of University Women, “Reproductive Freedom Is Tied to Women’s Economic Security,” Jan. 18, 2018, www.aauw.org/2018/01/18/reproductive-freedom-is-tied-to-womens-economic-....
American Public Health Association, “Socioeconomic Consequences of Abortion Compared to Unwanted Birth,” Oct. 30, 2012, https://apha.confex.com/apha/140am/webprogram/Paper263858.html.