“Don’t move forward after reading this like everything is normal,” Ava DuVernay tweeted on Wednesday, decrying the Alabama senate’s vote to effectively ban abortion less than 12 hours earlier. She wasn’t the only one to do so; by Wednesday afternoon, an impressive (and impressively eloquent) number of celebrities had followed suit—particularly considering the controversy that’s long come with expressing support of women’s right to control their own bodies.
But this time, unfortunately, the cause is one that pretty much everyone can get behind—22 of 33 Alabama senators who voted on Tuesday made sure of that by preventing the passage of an amendment to make exceptions for rape and incest, neither of which are apparently as serious of a crime as abortion. Abortion will soon join both in being classified as a felony, though when it comes to the severity of consequences, it’s set to be in a league of its own. If Kay Ivey, a vehemently anti-abortion Republican governor, approves the bill, women who choose not to go through with a pregnancy could go to prison for life. For women who became pregnant through rape, the consequences are the same, if not worse; comparatively, when it comes to prison sentences, rapists—or the minority of whom are prosecuted, anyway—have it easy.
Speaking of doctors, there is one exception to the ban: cases in which a mother’s life is at serious risk. Of course, it comes with a catch. Doctors who fear for the lives of their patients must first assess whether providing care is worth the risk of spending the rest of their lives in prison, should the court reject their medical expertise in favor of their own interpretation of “serious.” (At least the women who might also end up in prison for life will have some relatively sane company?)
Whether or not you’re in favor of the ban, there’s no denying that it marks a serious departure from the present and the past. The severity, after all, is the point; Alabama’s ban is just one of many recent attempts to challenge Roe v. Wade, in which the Supreme Court ruled that preventing a woman from getting an abortion is unconstitutional. (Never mind that 73 percent of Americans don’t actually want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.)
Naturally, then, it only took a few hours for such a dramatic upheaval to generate a dramatic response. “Don’t shake your head at Alabama and then keep going about your day,” DuVernay continued in her tweet, which she posted at 3 a.m. EST. “Realize that this is a warning. It’s Alabama and abortion today. It’s you and your rights tomorrow. Your silence will not save you. So speak up.”
And while Lady Gaga may have memorably lagged in her response time when it came to R. Kelly, on Wednesday she jumped in bright and early to decry the ban as a “travesty” and an “outrage.”
Echoing the sentiment of Gaga’s hashtag “#NoUterusNoOpinion,” the actress Alyssa Milano was one of many to point out that all 25 of the senators who passed the bill on Tuesday night are white men. (It’s not just their inability to get pregnant that’s relevant here, but also the fact that their decision will disproportionately affect black women, as well as women who are impoverished.)
Of course, the ban will still affect plenty of others, too. Despite the stigma, nearly one in four women in America will get an abortion before they turn 45. One of them is Busy Philipps, who shared another reminder of that fact on Wednesday, as she’s repeatedly done since first sharing her experience with an abortion at age 15 last year.
Gaga, Philipps, and Milano have been outspoken about similar issues in the past, but this time, a number of unexpected celebrities have joined them in weighing in. On Twitter, where he has nearly 12 million followers, Chris Evans described the news as “absolutely unbelievable”—a point which Patrick Schwarzenegger evidenced by putting a question to his followers: “Just so I’m understanding this correctly… in Alabama, a man who RAPES & gets a women pregnant will serve LESS time then the person that removes the embryo that was forcefully put in the victim…”
The singer Lizzo took up the task that’s become requisite in recent years: Pointing out parallels between present-day America and Gilead, the dystopic setting of The Handmaid’s Tale. (It’s currently trending right along with the hashtag “#AlabamaAbortionBan” on Twitter.) With an expert tap of the caps lock key, Janelle Monàe echoed Lizzo’s urgency: “THIS IS REAL & is HAPPENING IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” she tweeted on Tuesday night.
Hopefully, the outcry will continue. This, as DuVernay put it, is just “a warning”—and, as it turns out, just one of several to be issued on Wednesday. As Gaga and the rest were weighing in, news broke that Louisiana is now just one step away from effectively banning abortion, like Georgia; and from abstaining to make an exception for cases of rape and incest, like Louisiana,. All things considered, it’s remarkable that Idaho senator Bob Nonini even bothered to deny the view he advocated when speaking to a crowd last year: that women who get abortions should also get the death penalty.