By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
People are gathering all over the country today in #StopTheBans@ rallies to protest the epidemic of anti-abortion bills flooding from white male Republican-dominated state houses.
In New York, which has passed its own law codifying Roe v Wade but would be jeopardized if the concept of fetal personhood is endorsed by the radical-right Supreme Court majority, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will be advocating for Women's Reproductive Rights and Protections at a "Stop the Bans Rally NYC" (5:30 pm, May 21, Foley Square,111 Worth St, New York), as well as protests on Long Island. (Find a protest near you: https://www.stopabortionbans.org)
‘Choice’ v ‘Life’ is false flag in this war on women.
Georgia’s anti-abortion law dubbed the “heartbeat” bill, will criminalize abortions after six weeks of gestation, before many women even know they are pregnant - effectively banning 90% of abortions. The bill classifies unborn children as “distinct, living persons,” which would mean that any woman who terminates a pregnancy would be subject to prosecution for murder, punishable by life imprisonment or death in Georgia. Furthermore, if a woman travels outside Georgia for an abortion, she could be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, a potential 10-year sentence.
Alabama’s law deliberately goes even further, making abortion a felony at all stages of pregnancy, allowing no exceptions for rape or incest, only tacitly allowing the procedure if the mother’s life is at risk. That means a child who is raped will be forced to carry that pregnancy by their rapist to term and the rapist will forever have a basis to control her; a mother who knows the fetus is not viable, or that the child would suffer, even die soon after being born, will be forced to go through the trauma of a life-threatening pregnancy anyway (America has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the industrialized world). With a maximum penalty of 99 years in jail, Alabama would punish the doctor more harshly than the rapist.
Those who backed the new law said they don’t expect it to take effect, instead, intending its passage to be part of a broader strategy to have the radical right Supreme Court majority overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.
They see Trump appointees Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, despite their perjurious promises made during their confirmations to respect stare decisis (settled law) – and women’s right to choose is very definitely settled law over the past 50 years, with multiple decisions – as sure bets to breezily erase women’s reproductive rights.
Some 250 anti-abortion bills have already been introduced in the eight months since Kavanaugh was confirmed; 15 states have attempted to pass so-called “heartbeat bills.”
And if the Supreme Court gives a fetus is given personhood, that would jeopardize even New York’s protections for a woman’s reproductive rights.
I agree that Roe v Wade was decided wrongly, based on a nebulous “right to privacy.” It should have been decided based on Equal Protection – that a woman has the same right to self-determination and freedom from government control as a man. But these laws mean that an adult woman does not even have the same rights as the embryo she is carrying. (Wonder how many of these men would vote for abortion bans if they required the father to be 100% financially responsible from womb to voting age, or prosecuted men for not using a condom or required men to get a woman’s permission to have a vasectomy).
Let’s consider what giving personhood to non-sentient embryos means: if a woman miscarries, she can be prosecuted for murder; will Georgia track women who travel outside the state on the possibility they seek an abortion? If a woman drinks wine, has a cigarette or heaven forbid uses drugs, even prescription drugs or cancer treatment, she can be prosecuted. If a woman continues to work in a job that might pose some physical risk, she can be prosecuted (yet her employer doesn’t have to give her less strenuous work but can fire her for not doing her job, is not required to give her parental leave or even pay her what he pays a man). And any doctor who fulfills the Hippocratic oath to treat a woman’s medical condition can be sent to jail for 99 years.
By establishing the personhood of a fetus, you reject the personhood of the mother.
Bans already set up discrimination – a violation of Equal Protection - among women based upon geography and income because they basically deny access to health services for those in some states, and women who don’t have the means to spend on travel, days off work, and so forth. But it also sets up discretionary prosecution – you can bet no Congressman’s mistress or white suburban 16 year old will be prosecuted, but black, brown, poor women will certainly be prosecuted, even after suffering a miscarriage because of inadequate access to health care.
But it doesn’t actually stop there. The anti-women factions also want to bar the use of birth control based on “life begins at conception”, replace family planning with “abstinence education,” shut down clinics that have helped keep down the rate of unwanted pregnancies and improved the health of mother and fetus. The rate of abortions fell dramatically during Obama precisely because of mandated availability of birth control, improved access to health care. This isn’t about life.
If it were about the sanctity of life, these same anti-abortion activists would be on the march to stop gun violence; would be working to expand, not strip away, access to health care for mother and child and coverage for maternity, vaccinations, wellness care; would be expanding access to family planning, parental leave, day-care and pre-K. But they are not.
Anti-abortion laws have nothing to do with the sanctity of life. They have everything to do with the desire to control women – put them in their place, as it were, as second-class citizens, with fewer rights than even an embryo.
‘Choice’ v ‘Life’ is a false flag in this war on women. It casts women who are forced to make the most critical decision of her life as a vain, selfish Jezebel who somehow “asked for it.”
Republican Missouri state Rep. Barry Hovis, a former police officer, justified his vote to ban abortion after eight weeks without exemptions for rape or incest because most sexual assaults were either “date rapes or consensual rapes.”
“Let’s just say someone goes out and they’re raped or they’re sexually assaulted one night after a college party — because most of my rapes were not the gentleman jumping out of the bushes that nobody had ever met,” Hovis said. “That was one or two times out of 100 ... Most of them were date rapes or consensual rapes, which were all terrible.”
And if women don’t have the judgment, the rational thinking process to make a decision in this most critical instance, what else don’t women have judgment to do? Run companies? Vote? Be President?
“If this cruel invasion of women’s autonomy in the most aggressive fashion imaginable isn’t the personification of the war on women, I don’t know what is,” wrote Washington Post Columnist Jennifer Rubin.
"The abortion bans in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi are appalling attacks on women's lives and fundamental freedoms. Women's rights are human rights. We will not go back," Hillary Clinton declared.
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