top of page

What the Alabama ruling says about laws and how we make them

Katie Bolduc

Staff Writer 

March 19, 2024

What can kill a ruler? 

Old age and illness? A guillotine?  A jealous younger sibling? 


In Siam [Modern-day Thailand] in the late 1800’s, it was a crime, under penalty of death, to touch the royal family. One day, Queen Sunandha’s boat capsized, while a crowd of potential rescuers simply watched her drown, too afraid of what would happen if they touched her. 

Just like the case of Queen Sunandha, laws whether they be made honestly or corruptly, sometimes have murky ripple effects. These unintended ripples have the potential to deeply hurt or deeply help the lawmakers in question. The recent ruling to come out of the Alabama Supreme Court is a crystal clear example of this. It’s in these instances, where laws diverge into two paths: serving the greater good or the greater agenda. 

Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, Alabama has been a staunchly pro-life stronghold where abortions are illegal in almost all circumstances. No one was surprised by the February 16 decision; it ruled that frozen embryos created through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) are children in the eyes of the law. What promptly followed was an indefinite pause from many IVF clinics. This was not what anyone, least of all the GOP, wanted. 

A recent poll from CBS found that a whopping 86% of Americans support IVF, making this ruling massively unpopular, even among pro-life people and politicians. Recently, a federal bill that protected IVF was put forward under an expedited process. This expedited process meant that a single negative vote could kill the bill and that’s exactly what happened. According to AP news, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith was the only nay in the house. 

Considering that IVF requires the creation and destruction of embryos, it is functionally impossible to believe an embryo is a child and that IVF should remain legal. Yet, many pro-life supporters, including representatives at the state and federal level (only one nay, remember), seem to contort themselves into believing in both. This being said, it is political suicide for them to publicly condemn the Alabama ruling. If the court decided that an embryo wasn’t a child, it could call into question its anti-abortion policies as being ‘hypocritical’; in this way, nationally treasured access to IVF is but a sacrificial lamb to Alabama’s larger political goals. It doesn’t matter who is hurt, as long as other laws won’t be criticized.  

I’d like to be clear: This op-ed is not advocating for or against abortion bans, for or against IVF. It illustrates what happens when politicians put their agendas over the policies that their people, and they themselves, support. 

With this framework in mind, it’s easy to see how unhelpful or damaging laws can continue to thrive even when they help no one. 

Our second case study begins in New Jersey but contributed to deaths in every state. 

New Jersey’s Childproof Handgun Law of 2002 says that as soon as a ‘smart’ gun is sold in the United States, ALL handguns sold in New Jersey must be smart within 3 years. A ‘smart’ gun works similarly to your phone’s security systems. They use facial and/or fingerprint recognition, so the gun can only be fired by its lawful owner. This not only stops criminals from using stolen guns, but it also prevents the deaths of children from unintentional shootings and suicide. 

If ‘smart’ guns have been in the discussion since 2002, then why aren’t they flying off the shelves two decades later? The answer comes back to this New Jersey act. Because the sale of any ‘smart’ gun anywhere would outlaw traditional handguns in the state, ‘smart’ gun sellers all the way in Maryland and California faced disdain, boycotts, and even death threats from their buyers. Some European countries have been enjoying this technology for years, but not the US. 

The bill’s sponsor Loretta Weinberg recognized this mistake.  

That's the exact opposite of what we really intended to do,” Weinberg said. 

Ultimately, Weinberg went on to sponsor a new bill in 2019. It removed the ban but still imposed regulations on gun dealers, such as them being legally required to sell at least one ‘smart’ gun. Steps in the right direction are worth something, but even so, all of this has amounted to nothing, save an ongoing hissing fit with the NRA. 

The NRA “does not oppose smart gun technology,” while standing against any mandates. This led Representative Weinberg to say that she would repeal the law if the NRA publicly agreed to not stand in the way of further development. They didn’t respond. 

Round and round we go. 

The NRA and the New Jersey legislature both say they want ‘smart’ guns while their parasitic relationship is the only thing preventing that from happening. 

Like this ‘smart’ gun law, the ruling in Alabama helps neither party, and it definitely doesn’t represent the desires of most Americans. Only a small few want the life-saving technology of ‘smart’ guns in purgatory, and even fewer want the life-creating technology of IVF to disappear. Yet, here we are. 

Civics class teaches us about the three branches of government. It teaches us about how the public elects competent and skilled leaders who then create laws that represent our interests and beliefs. People often assume that what the law says on paper is what the law will mean and react accordingly, but cases like these are happening every day and in every city. Sometimes, these are honest blunders; sometimes, they are strategic cracked eggs. Either way, it is my hope that there is something to be learned from the pain caused by the tensions in Alabama. I hope we learn to have patience and foresight for what we believe, who we vote for, and what the purpose of laws even is.

Especially if you happen to be a queen on a boat. 

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page