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Alabama students speak out on abortion ban: 'I'm not planning on living here after I graduate'

Lisa Belkin
Chief National Correspondent

The near-total abortion ban passed by the Alabama Legislature and signed into law this week was a major topic of conversation among students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

A nonscientific sampling of students found that not only had all of them heard about the ban, but most worried about the new law — fearing its effects on classmates, women statewide and their school. The ban is the strictest one passed anywhere in the 46 years since the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that there is a constitutional right to abortion.

“Even though we knew that this was coming, it’s shocking to me just how restrictive and inhumane it is,” Abba Mellon, the student president of Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity at the school, told Yahoo News’ Kayla Jardine.

“This bill is very extreme, and it … affects my viewpoint of living in the state itself,” said senior Melanie Parker. “I’m not planning on living here after I graduate.”

The Alabama Human Life Protection Act makes abortion illegal at every stage of pregnancy, even in cases of incest or rape, unless the mother’s life is in danger. It also makes the penalty for providing an abortion up to 99 years in prison.

Many said that while they consider themselves pro-life, this law goes too far. “I wouldn’t personally have an abortion myself. However, I am not here to judge other people, I’m just here to support people in what they do,” said Ashlynne Rivers, a senior.

Noting that the vote in the Alabama Senate was 25 to 6, with the majority being all white, Republican and male, Rivers added, “As a man, they don’t understand what a woman goes through.”

She predicted that the law “is just going to cause unsafe abortions, because you’re not going to stop it.”

Others speculated that the law would cause prospective students to think twice before matriculating at U of A, where more than half the students are from out of state.

“A lot of people who might have come here might not now,” said Claire Martin, a junior.

Mellon agreed: “In the past few years we’ve been in the spotlight for things that are not good. First with Jeff Sessions, then with Roy Moore, now with this. And it’s really frustrating for me because there’s so much good stuff that’s happening in Alabama.”