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Director of Planned Parenthood Alabama warns of ‘political reckoning’ over abortion rights

Due to Roe v. Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court, it is now illegal to perform abortions in Alabama except in cases where the health of the mother is at risk.

Despite that reality, the debate over abortion rights has not ended in the Yellowhammer State, as some are calling for changes to the abortion law to allow for more exceptions.

Friday on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Stephen Stetson, the director of Planned Parenthood Alabama, said there could be some political will to incrementally change the state’s abortion laws in the future.

“I certainly think that in the state of Alabama politicians are going to be less inclined to take a stand that they feel is out of sync with their constituents,” Stetson said, “but that’s in the face of numbers that we’ve seen that shows that 80% of the people in the United States think Roe should’ve stayed law, and I don’t know the exact numbers for Alabama, but it’s probably a healthy majority.”

Stetson argued that many Alabamians could become more politically active on this issue as a result of losing a perceived right. He suggested there could be a “political reckoning.”

“I also think that’s going to run up against narratives that are going to begin to emerge,” he argued, “where individuals thought they had a right to do something and then realize that they don’t are going to translate that into a political will that, as you have said, we haven’t had to reckon with this before. People have taken for granted that we’ve had this right and when they realize they don’t, I think there may be a political reckoning from that.”

The Planned Parenthood director advised that his organization would follow state law and their facilities were not currently performing abortions.

“[O]ur facilities and I think the other three independent clinics in the state of Alabama have essentially halted providing abortion care at this time,” he said. “We want to be sure we’re not breaking any laws, and we also want to be sure that we’re not running afoul of any prereferral laws like conspiracy laws. We don’t want to be afoul of any parts of the laws, so for now we’re really refocusing on our core service like STI testing, annual exams, wellness exams, we do a lot of contraception. We still do a lot of stuff, but for now, abortion is probably illegal in Alabama.”

Stetson described how he felt when the court ruling came down.

“You know, I’ve kind of been comparing it to one of the gulf hurricanes that you see coming but it doesn’t make it any less devastating when it arrives,” he said.

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” Weekdays 9-11am on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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