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Doug Jones Bucks Other Deep South Dems on Women’s Rights: ‘I Am With You’

U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones held a campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama on October 3, 2017, where he was joined by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Photo by Ashton Pittman for Deep South Voice.

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, the Alabama Democrat who shocked the nation when he won a U.S. Senate seat in the deeply red state in 2017, pushed back against the tide of anti-abortion Democrats in the region on Wednesday. After Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the most restrictive abortion legislation in the U.S. Wednesday, Jones sent out a tweet signaling his disapproval.

“For any woman out there tonight who is afraid, angry, in disbelief, or feeling disenfranchised, know this: I am with you, & I will fight for you. Period!” he wrote.

The law bans almost all abortions, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or severe fetal deformities. Anyone caught facilitating an illegal abortion could face up to 99 years in prison. Still, the law would have to survive tough legal challenges, since the Supreme Court declared in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that abortion is a constitutionally protected right.

Jones had already voiced his opposition for the law before the Republican governor signed it.

“I refuse to believe that these Republican men represent the views of most Alabamians,” Jones wrote Tuesday, referring to white and male cast of Alabama senators who voted for it. “Their action is both unconstitutional and shameful. The people of Alabama deserve to be on the not the side of extremists. Women deserve better.”

Jones is up for re-election in 2020, and Alabama is one of the most anti-abortion states in the country. His decision to come out strongly against the ban puts him at odds with other Democratic officeholders in neighboring Deep South states.

After Mississippi passed its six-week abortion ban in March, which also includes no exceptions for rape, incest, or severe fetal deformities, several Democratic men voted for it, including state Rep. Jay Hughes (D-Oxford), who is running for lieutenant governor. After women’s rights activists expressed anger over his vote, Hughes wrote several back, telling them that the state House could end up with no white Democratic men unless they sided with the anti-abortion crowd. One Republican, state Rep. Missy McGee (R-Hattiesburg), voted against the bill.

Mississippi’s Democratic attorney general, Jim Hood, is now defending that “heartbeat bill” in court—a decision that also drew harsh criticism from liberals in the state.

In Louisiana, a six-week abortion ban is also working its way through the state Legislature. That state’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, has indicated he will sign it, consistent with his “pro-life record,” as he calls it.

Similar bills have passed or are making their way through state legislatures across the country. Anti-abortion groups have pushed them this year in response to Trump’s appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. They hope one of these laws will trigger a court case that could lead to the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the end of abortion rights in America.

Earlier this month, Mississippi state Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall), who helped author the six-week ban, explained to the Jackson Free Press why conservatives think they have a shot at overturning abortion rights.

“With a fifth conservative taking the seat of Justice Kennedy, who was considered a moderate on the court, I think a lot of people thought, finally, we have five conservative justices and so now would be a good time to start testing the limits of Roe,” he said.

Written by Ashton Pittman

Ashton is the founder of Deep South Voice. He is also the State Reporter for the Jackson Free Press, where he covers Mississippi politics and campaigns. A Mississippi native who studied journalism and politics at the University of Southern Mississippi, his work has appeared in The Guardian, the New York Times, on NBC.com, and a number of other outlets. He has made appearances on MSNBC, NPR Radio, and several other broadcast and radio shows. You can follow him on Twitter @ashtonpittman.

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