March of the Fetus People

Last week, David Atkins predicted that anti-abortion fanatics will drag the U.S. into a “cold civil war.”

Republican legislators fully intend to criminalize abortion. They fully intend to jail women as murderers for taking control of their own bodies, to prosecute them for leaving the state for medical aid, to punish any doctor who attempts to help with a lifetime in jail. They really mean to do it—damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.

But unlike any issue since slavery and Jim Crow, morally decent Americans in blue states will not stand by and idly watch as their fellow American women are dragged before theocratic tribunals and sentenced to life in prison for exercising the basic rights and freedoms that have become standard practice across the western world. They will not keep calm as thugs attempt to drag women refugees back across state lines for the crime of seeking a better life, free from their abusive partners, and endure the forced births of unwanted pregnancies. Like no other issue in American politics, decent citizens will demand aggressive action to defend the downtrodden and abused victims of patriarchal theocracy.

I think it’s as likely as not that the draconian abortion laws being passed in Alabama and other red states will be struck down by federal courts, and if the Supreme Court takes the cases Chief Justice Roberts will vote with justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor to keep them struck down. Roberts may not like abortion, but I believe he has enough sense to know what’s good for the Repubican party. However, this may be wishful thinking on my part.

There is a school of thought out there that these state legislatures want the SCOTUS to kill their abortion laws. Deep down, the thinking goes, they must realize there will be a nasty backlash if women and doctors are really imprisoned for abortions. Politicians want to be able to wave their anti-abortion bona fides in front of their hard-right constituents and then blame the courts for nor turning their states into real-world Handmaid’s Tales. They don’t want to be the dog that catches the car.

Maybe, but I’m inclined to agree with

Why? It’s beyond obvious that red states’ attempts to chip away at abortion rights have nothing to do with “protecting” women. Considering that Alabama has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the U.S., and the Alabama legilsature appears to be doing nothing about that, one assumes they don’t give much of a hoo-haw about children, either. See Michael Hiltzik, States with the worst anti-abortion laws also have the worst infant mortality rates.

Alabama is one of two states, with Georgia, that enacted new abortion restrictions over the last week. Their records on maternal and infant health are shameful. Alabama is tied for fourth-worst place in infant mortality, with a rate of 7.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. Georgia, with a rate of 7.2, is tied for seventh-worst.

“In a state that has some of the worst health outcomes for women in the nation—such as the highest rate of cervical cancer — Alabama is putting women’s lives at an even greater risk,” said Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Of the 12 states ranked highest in infant mortality rates, all with rates of 7.0 or higher, 11 are described by the abortion rights organization NARAL as imposing “severely restricted access” on abortions. The one exception, West Virginia, is listed as having “restricted access,” a notch better. But NARAL reports that 90% of women in the state live in counties without a single abortion clinic.

The biggest reason for this appears to be that state legislatures that spend all their time thinking up ways to restrict access to abortion tend to be the same states that didn’t expand Medicaid and which are stingiest at providing access to health care for women and children. They piously claim to be “saving babies,” but only until they are born.

And what about protecting women? Paul Waldman:

The anti-abortion activists who push these bills and the legislators who write them always say that they aren’t interested in punishing women for having abortions; I’m reminded of the time in 2016 when the recently pro-life Donald Trump said “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions and was then quickly silenced by Republicans whispering “ixnay on the unishment-pay!” out of the corners of their mouths, since this is a truth you’re not supposed to mention.

But the Georgia bill quite purposely didn’t include any language saying women couldn’t be prosecuted.

That brings us to Alabama, where on Thursday the all-white-male Republican contingent in the state senate tried to sneak through an amendment to their own even more radical bill, which would outlaw all abortions, heartbeat or no, and make abortion a felony punishable by 99 years in prison.

 

My gut-level take is that at the core of right-wing men is a deep fear and loathing of women’s sexuality. The gives them a means to act out those feelings by punishing women for being sexual.  The cruelty is the point. It’s not going too far, I don’t think, to call anti-abortion activism a form of vicarious rape. And yes, women get sucked into this same sickness. There may be some self-loathing involved, and I also think a lot of women are too conditioned to find their own self-worth in male approval, so they take part in their own subjugation. And there’s the religious element also.