The War on Abortion Is Only Just Beginning
f you’ve ever wondered what the oft-used and much maligned word “patriarchy” looks like, you need look no further than a picture of Donald Trump, surrounded by white men, reinstating the global gag rule. The policy, which bans funding any international organization that dares to even talk about abortion, has contributed to thousands of women’s deaths across the globe.
The executive order was just the beginning. In the short time Trump has been president, his administration has set a disastrous course for women’s health and rights. On Tuesday, days after historic marches that put millions of women on the street globally, Republican congressmen introduced the first ever federal ‘heartbeat bill’ - a policy that would ban abortions after six weeks, well before most women even know they’re pregnant.
That same day, the House passed a bill that would make the dangerous and discriminatory Hyde Amendment – which prevents federal funds from covering abortion, even in cases of fetal abnormalities and maternal health issues – permanent. The bill, which targets poor women, would also impact abortion coverage for women with private insurance. Congressional republicans have even introduced a federal ‘personhood’ bill that would define life as beginning at conception.
While the bills will not likely get far, the new administration is sending a clear message – they’re keeping Trump’s promise to punish women who have abortions, and rolling back hard-won rights. These are far-reaching and radical policies that quite literally kill women. There is no overstating just how harmful they are.
So you’ll excuse me for laughing off recent suggestions that feminists embrace “pro-life” women in the name of inclusivity. You don’t get to feel bad about being banned from the treehouse when you’re in the middle of setting the trunk on fire.
If anti-abortion legislators or so-called pro-life feminists were interested in decreasing the number of abortions they’d be enthusiastically supporting comprehensive sex education, affordable birth control, and access to over-the-counter emergency contraception. They’d be introducing legislation to mandate paid parental leave and subsidized child care.
But they’re not. And they won’t. So let’s not fool ourselves – these next four years are about fighting for what’s right, not searching for the nonexistent distraction of common ground.
Conservative, and mostly male, legislators will continue to push extreme policies; not necessarily with the hope that they’ll pass, but with the understanding that less radical laws might then seem “reasonable.” Diane Horvath-Cosper from Physicians for Reproductive Health told the Guardian this week, “So when a congressman introduces a 20-week bill, it looks moderate by comparison.”
But there is nothing moderate or reasonable about forced pregnancy, not at any point. There is no common ground with an administration that would put the rights of a fertilized egg above those of a living person. So keep those pink hats handy - we’re going to need them.