The War on Women has been in full force since the Reagan administration and recent anti-abortion laws are just the newest assault on women’s reproductive rights. On May 15, Alabama signed into a bill into law that bans virtually all abortions. It does not include exceptions for rape or incest and makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by 99 years in prison.
This law is the latest of anti-abortion laws passed in the South. Four other states, including Georgia and Kentucky, have passed “fetal heartbeat bills.” All prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which often occurs before a woman knows she is pregnant.
These laws are so extreme that even some Republicans are distancing themselves from them.
For example, Mitt Romney told CNN, “I'm pro-life, but there ought to be exceptions for rape and incest and where the life of the mother is at risk." Other prominent Republicans distancing themselves include conservative internet personality Tomi Lahren and President Donald Trump.
While the religious right likes to argue that these restrictive laws are to “protect the life of the unborn,” it is obvious from looking at their stance on other issues what their true motives are.
If Republicans care about the lives of children, then why do they allow private adoption companies to discriminate against LGBTQ+ couples wishing to adopt? Why do they continue to oppose laws aiming to reduce gun violence, which kills nearly 1,300 children every year? Why do they ridicule Medicare-for-all – a policy that could potentially save the lives of thousands of children with a life-threatening pre-existing condition?
It’s simple. Anti-abortion measures have never been a means to save the lives of children. It has always been a means of controlling women. With the power to control what a woman can or cannot do with her body, they take away women’s freedom. It effectively makes women second-class citizens to their male counterparts.
Meanwhile, men have the freedom to have sex with whomever they want, whenever they choose and without the fear of later consequences. Not only do they not have to worry about becoming pregnant, but there is also no obligation for them to stay and support the mother.
The late comedian George Carlin perfectly summarized the Republican obsession over reproductive rights stating, “They’re not pro-life. You know what they are, they’re anti-woman.” To add to this sentiment, I think a better term to refer to pro-life conservatives is “pro-fetus,” as the religious right’s concern over a fetus ends as soon as it is born.
A poll from the Pew Research Center further proves Republicans’ disdain towards women. While nearly 60 percent of Americans agree there are too few women in political office and in leadership positions in business, only 33 percent of Republicans believe women are underrepresented in politics. Break it down by gender, and it gets worse. Only 24 percent of Republican men find there are too few women in politics today.
These recent anti-abortion laws will certainly be challenged as a violation of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case. But with the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court, there is a real risk of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
However, not all hope is lost if this does happen. Abortion would then become a state issue likely resulting in more “liberal” states protecting a woman's right to choose and more “conservative” states placing restrictions or outright bans on abortions.
Ultimately, it’s scary to see how much power a small number of people hold. Just 25 white men of the Alabama Senate passed the anti-abortion law, which affects the lives of millions of women. Furthermore, only three women were able to vote in this life-changing measure. Thus, it is imperative to elect female politicians (particularly those who are pro-choice) as it should be women deciding laws surrounding women’s health.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons