Who Is?
S4 E12

Who is Kay Ivey? Narrated by Chika

Kay Ivey is Alabama’s governor who signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the country. She said she would vote for Roy Moore, even after he faced credible allegations of child molestation, and she believes that “every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,” unless that life is on death row.

Kay Ellen Ivey was born in 1944 in Camden, Alabama—a small town with two traffic lights and a population of around 2,000. A young Ivey worked on her father’s farm, which taught her to value hard work. She graduated from Auburn University in 1967 and moved to California, where she taught the nation’s impressionable youth at Rio Linda High School in Sacramento.

A couple years later, Ivey returned to Alabama and took a job at Merchants National Bank, before deciding to dive into politics. Ivey was appointed to serve in the state cabinet by then-Governor Fob James, a guy who was partially responsible for re-instituting chain-gangs, a practice which displayed the largely Black inmate population for white tourists to see. Later, Ivey became the reading clerk for the state House of Representatives. In 1982, she ran as a Democrat for State Auditor, but was defeated.

In 2002, Ivey switched parties and ran successfully as a Republican for State Treasurer, a position she held until 2011 when she became Lieutenant Governor. Prior to her appointment, for 7 years, the Alabama State legislature was controlled by Democrats. But after the GOP reportedly spent 30 million dollars to fund the REDMAP project — which critics have described as ‘Gerrymandering on steroids’ — everything went red. The project aimed to pack as many Democratic voters as they could into one district, which resulted in Republicans taking control of both chambers, and all statewide offices. Thanks to politicians drawing lines on a map, Kay Ivey continued to climb the ladder of Alabama politics. In 2017, Ivey made the jump to Governor, after the guy who previously held the position, Robert Bentley, resigned in the midst of a sex scandal.

In May of 2017, she signed into law a bill that cut down the time death-row inmates had to file appeals. During her tenure, the pro-life Ivey has presided over the state sanctioned killings of six people under Alabama’s death penalty law. The same month, Ivey signed another bill into law which protected confederate monuments.

On May 15th, 2019, Ivey took a step that will cement her in history for decades to come. With the stroke of a pen, Ivey signed the most restrictive abortion bill in the country into law. The bill directly contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe V. Wade. The bill, which was passed by 25 Alabama senators — all of whom are white men — outlaws abortion at every stage of pregnancy with exemptions for serious health risks, but not for rape or incest. Doctors who perform an abortion could face up to 99 years in prison, which is the same amount of time as rapists and murderers.

This legislation was specifically designed to make its way to the Supreme Court. The bill’s sponsor in the House, Republican Terry Collins even said, "This bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn, because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection." Under the Supreme Court’s newly empowered conservative majority, thanks to Donald Trump, the bill could be used to strike down Roe V. Wade, which has protected a woman’s right to choose for nearly fifty years.