For the past few days, my Facebook feed has been dominated by posts about Alabama and Georgia and other draconian efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Here in Indiana, former statehouse reporter and current columnist for The Statehouse File, Mary Beth Schneider, has dubbed these efforts by fundamentalist Republicans “The GOP’s ‘Mourdock moment,”a reference to Indiana’s then-Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s statement to the effect that pregnancies caused by rape are something God intended, so the rapist’s baby shouldn’t be aborted.
Mourdock–like Todd Akin in Missouri (who claimed that women’s bodies could “shut the whole thing down” in cases of “legitimate” rape)– lost that election. In deep-red Indiana.
I can only hope these desperate attempts to put women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, do turn out to be “Mourdock moments.”
I have written before that reversing Roe would be a gift to the Democratic Party–that the single-issue voters the GOP have relied upon for decades would become less politically active, while the rage of the rest of us would benefit Democratic prochoice candidates. Whatever the political fallout, however, it’s important to call these efforts what they are: frantic efforts by white “Christian” men to preserve their dominance–a dominance that is threatened by women, as well as by black and brown people.
These attacks on reproductive autonomy–including, increasingly, efforts to deny women access to birth control–demonstrably have nothing to do with reverence for life. As many others–including genuinely “pro life” people– have pointed out, once those babies are born, any concern for their welfare disappears. In Alabama, 26.5% of children live below the poverty line. Over 30 percent of kids under five are impoverished; 22.5 percent face food insecurity; and 250,000 children in the state are destitute.
– 46th in health care
– 50th in education
– 45th in economy
– 45th in opportunity
– 45th in crime and corrections
– 49th overall
The Alabama legislature appears untroubled by these statistics. They are hysterical, however, about the prospect of allowing women to control their own reproduction.
I used to disagree with prochoice advocates who claimed that efforts to curtail abortion were part of a larger war on women. I was–and I still am–willing to believe that there are some people who genuinely believe that those early clumps of fertilized cells represent potential humanity, and deserve protection–although it is still hard for me to understand why they want that protection to trump the health and well-being of the already-alive woman who is carrying them.
But as time has gone on, it has become very clear that the people to whom I was extending the benefit of the doubt are few and far between. Most “pro-life” activists are only pro-birth, and they have made it quite obvious that their motivations have very little to do with protecting life. (If they were really pro-life, they’d feed hungry kids and pass reasonable gun control laws, for starters.)
No, I think these draconian laws are triggered by deep-seated misogyny and resentment of “uppity” women.
Once medical science developed reliable birth control, women became free to enter the workforce. We were able to plan our adult lives. We were no longer prisoners of our biology. Birth control has allowed women to compete with men in business and in the political arena– and to become yet another perceived threat to white male dominance.
As any dispassionate observer will confirm, successful, self-confident men aren’t threatened by strong, confident women, or by women determining their own futures and living in accordance with their own values. Frightened, insecure men (and women)–people who are disoriented and intimidated by modernity and social change–are threatened.
Some social changes, however, aren’t going to be reversed, and women’s equality is one of them. Women aren’t submissively going back to the kitchen.
We also aren’t returning to back-alley abortionists. As many people have pointed out, laws like this don’t prevent abortions; they never have. They just prevent medically safe abortions. They guarantee that many women will needlessly die–thus making another mockery of proponents’ “pro life” protestations.
Rational people understand what this is really about. That’s why I think Mary Beth is right: this is the GOP’s “Mourdock moment.”