Image: Melissa Golden, New York Times

Even before Alabama passed one of the nation’s most restrictive bans on abortions in decades, the procedure had been in decline in the state after years of limits.

The remaining doctors who perform abortions — they have dwindled to a handful — work at only three clinics in a state where there once were more than a dozen. Dr. Yashica Robinson, who provides abortions in Huntsville, said she had been the target of a letter-writing campaign to have her hospital privileges revoked. Even some fellow medical workers, she said, have showed signs of hostility toward her.

“If I wasn’t here, this would not be at the top of my list for places to go,” Dr. Robinson said of the climate in Alabama.

Outside the state, Alabama’s abortion ban has been perceived as a sudden and stunning push by a State Legislature overwhelmingly dominated by men. But this is a state where opposition to abortion is widespread.

Opinion polling has repeatedly shown that a broad segment of Alabama voters, including a majority of women, generally oppose abortion rights, and for many of them, passage of the ban was a triumph. Just last year, residents overwhelmingly endorsed a change to the State Constitution declaring it Alabama’s policy “to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.”

Indeed, deeply felt personal views on abortion, often cemented in Alabama’s churches, can also be of enormous political consequence. Democrats and Republicans alike acknowledge that for many people in both parties, regardless of gender, opposition to abortion is simply good politics.

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