Possibility is not a luxury; it is as crucial as bread – Judith Butler
Not only are women and children at risk of domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment in the workplace; the Supreme court of the US wants to place them in even more harm. Abortions will happen no matter what but not safely. The fact that many right leaning states (Missouri, Texas, Idaho, Alabama) are already legislating restrictive and draconian laws criminalizing women, their providers and advocates.
What is this about? Forcing women to undergo pregnancy and childbirth no matter whether they are raped, the pregnancy is in trouble, or if they are unable to care for a child financially or emotionally, is barbaric. Margaret Atwood states that this is akin to slavery in an extract in the Guardian May 7, 2022 from her book Burning Questions. She states that giving birth to a child is a gift if a woman has chosen so. If not it is “an extortion from them against their wills”. If it is a gift a woman has not chosen then it is simply “a symptom of tyranny.” She points out rightly that enforcing childbirth is a form of slavery.
Those of us that have been around awhile have had this horrible feeling in the back of our mind that the freedom to be able to choose to have children, to choose to raise them in a marriage or to choose to be a single parent would be taken away one day. I came of age with the birth control pill that liberated women. We were able to choose then not to be married to spousal abusers, alcoholics and men who wanted to control our every movement (coercive control). If by some chance now women get pregnant, with a ban on abortion, she might have to make the choice of dying from an abortion, carrying the child to term and giving it up, possibly dying in childbirth or living with a totally unsuitable partner and maybe being killed by an abusive one. Some choice! Although we have pills that can be used for abortions access to them is being limited.
I read the book the Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood and watched the first two seasons of the TV series. The thought of that level of control of my life horrifies me. Knowing what I have been through with my own father, what my clients have experienced and the nuances of power, I have never forgotten that feeling and the possibility of returning to oppressive conditions and coercive power. Maybe that is why I never remarried. The fact that my daughter or granddaughter would have to live under those conditions horrifies me.
Now if you think that this opinion is alarmist, I honestly do not think it is. See Arwa Mahdawi in the Guardian May 7, 2022, discussing how the “Reasonable, Rational People” are trying to calm us. We have seen the fascist mob on January 6, the election lies perpetuated, we have seen what a sexual abuser, a racist demagogue can do as president of the United States, we have seen the rise of conspiracists, and we know what men in power get away with. We live in a world where men are rarely held accountable for rape, and domestic abuse. We know what it is like for a woman to confront her abuser and go through the justice system. I am white and cannot fathom what it is like to be black, indigenous, LGBTQ and transgender in this type of culture where we rarely see accountability for sexist, racist or classist behavior.
V, formerly Eve Ensler, makes the point in the Guardian May 6, 2022 that the hypocrisy of the abortion debate is that the ability to care for children financially and emotionally is not only an individual responsibility it is the responsibility of the state to provide the resources necessary for quality of life, particularly if they are going to enforce childbirth. In this overturning of legislation that protects abortion rights there is no provision to support women if they are forced to bear children against their will. Amy Coney Barrett, a (Trump Supreme Court Justice appointee) suggests that the draconian move will ensure a domestic supply of babies for adoption. OMG that is slavery and a total lack of empathy for women in that position. Women who are more than likely those with low incomes not the privileged few who have access and means to travel, if necessary.
The other hypocrisy is the fact is that the cabal of largely powerful white men and their female advocates, who are guided by God in this matter, would not think twice if the pregnant woman was their mistress. The extremist Christian White Nationalists that are behind this move to ban abortions and enact restrictions, use the bible to support their claim however they are not the majority of the US public, but they are the majority members of the Supreme Court put there by the Republican party. Their position supports patriarchal structures that regress us 50 years or more. It is my opinion that this is a culture war, and it is a move to control the reproductive rights of women and in doing so control women’s lives. Contraception is also a target with policies such as not funding Planned Parenthood, and this is the likely next target.
Make no mistake my inner voice says we are not immune to abortion rights being raised in Canada. Do I trust that we are safe as women here? No I do not! As Elizabeth Warren vehemently stated, “we will not go back”. I believe this is a war that has been underway in the shadows for years and it has been slowly “warming the frog”. The women I know will not be mollified. I think we owe it to are children and grandchildren to foster an environment where women are equal and have choices to control what they do with their own bodies.