And once again, Republicans have ramped up a drive to drag us all back to the heyday of male supremacy.
In the most draconian of recent measures, a couple of states have passed legislation which would outlaw abortion at all stages of pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest. Other states, while not quite that extreme, have passed laws which would outlaw abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat, usually about six weeks into pregnancy, at a time when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant.
Make no mistake: For the politically powerful in the anti-choice camp (and it is anti-choice, not pro-life as touted), this is all about domination. It’s about giving the government sway over a woman’s body and a woman’s life.
It’s infantilization, ironically at a time when clearly that woman may be making the most adult decision of her life, a decision that will affect her mental and physical health, her economic status, her ability to pursue dreams and ambitions, her relationships, her sense of control. It is arguably the most pivotal decision of her lifetime, and it is hers alone. If she wishes to consult others, that’s her choice, but she deserves privacy in the process.
I realize states are engaging in this lunacy in the hope that one of their cases will land in the Supreme Court where conservative justices will overturn Roe v. Wade. But to what avail? Do they really believe women are going to "go gentle into that good night"? I don't think so.
How dare a state dictate what she’s to do? How dare it demand, as some states have done, that she must submit to a vaginal ultrasound or view a video of the child in utero or be subjected to demeaning pre-abortion counseling against her will? What 's more disempowering than telling a woman she has no authority to make her own decisions in her own way in this most intimate arena of her life?
The huge irony in the Republicans’ embrace of anti-choice policy is, first of all, their penchant for calling it “pro-life.” As a party, they’re about as pro-life as a nuclear bomb. They want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, for instance, reduce benefits in Medicare and Medicaid, reduce vital support programs for those living in poverty, and keep the minimum wage at a level which would result in a far-below-poverty annual income of $15,600 per year for a full-time worker. All that is “pro-life?”
And there’s more: They’ve come very lately to concern about the opioid epidemic. They’ve refused to acknowledge the hazards of climate change. They’ve ignored the fact that student debt rages out of control. They support a president who separated children from their parents, locked them up in cages, and now can’t reunite some of them because they’ve lost track of where they are.
Pro-life? I don’t think so.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a little tired of the anti-abortion (and anti-contraceptive! Go figure) activists fussing about insurance plans that include those services in their policies. They (the anti folks) argue that being required to pay for plans that offer those coverages impinges on their religious rights.
No. It doesn’t. If they were required to avail themselves of those services when abortion or contraception defies their religious beliefs, then yes. That would be impinging on their religious rights. But there is no requirement that anyone have an abortion or use contraception.
In a civilized society, we inevitably pay for some things we don’t believe in.
I believe, for instance, that war is not only futile, but immoral; that belief is grounded in religious tenets that there is that of the divine in each of us. I would prefer not to pay the portion of my taxes that goes into building and sustaining our immense war machine. On a religious level, I don’t believe in it. However, in a civilized society, and one that exists in a complex and often hostile world, I accept that we all have a responsibility to protect our loved ones, ourselves, and our way of life. Just don’t tell me to go out and kill someone. That would violate my religious beliefs. Paying for weaponry and the forces who use them is the repugnant price I pay for the many privileges I enjoy.
And yes, I do recognize some inconsistency here in my stance on abortion and my attitude towards deliberate killing of sentient human beings; but I also believe in the validity of what my mother once said. As a young social worker in Chicago at the height of the Great Depression, she tried to help unwanted children who suffered from neglect and hunger and illness. Years later, she told me, "There are worse things than never being born." Something to think about.
Thoughts for Our Time
“Conservatism discards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows Progress; having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present, and makes no preparation for the future.”