From the May-June 2023 issue of News & Letters
by Terry Moon
Republicans and their obscenely rich sponsors have to destroy democracy if they want to rule—and boy do they want to rule. A robust majority of the U.S. population supports legal, safe, accessible abortion; are for gay rights and don’t despise Trans people. So how do you trash the rights of women, gays, Trans people, reinstate back-breaking child labor, attack the real history of oppression and let loose racism and anti-Semitism? In the U.S. you do it by destroying a government by the people and for the people.
METHODICALLY DESTROYING DEMOCRACY
Republicans are experts at this with their extreme gerrymandering, destruction of the Voting Rights Act and ongoing voter suppression. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade gave them tremendous power in developing new ways to destroy a democracy. How did trashing women’s human right to an abortion help them? Let us count the ways.
1. First, and most tragically, is declaring women as less than human by stripping us of the ability to control what is happening in our own bodies. That means our pregnant bodies and selves now belong to the state. Republican state governors and legislators, wallowing like pigs at a trough, are using their new-found power to force their property, i.e., women and others who may become pregnant, to do their bidding. That already has meant:
♀ Carrying a doomed fetus until it dies and its dead tissue sickens a woman so severely that she too may die. And in Tennessee that’s likely because their abortion ban has no exceptions—including for a woman’s life.
♀ Carrying a fetus that will die within minutes or hours after it is born, and most often die in pain.
♀ Forcing women and others to complete a pregnancy they do not want because of their health; their finances; their determination to make a better life for the children they already have; their need to finish school; their parents will throw them out of the house; their husband might kill them. The reasons are endless, which is why bans are so very wrong.
THEY ‘REPRESENT’ ONLY THEMSELVES
2. Because these autocrats know that their abortion bans are widely unpopular, they are trying to destroy the few avenues that people have left to influence society. In her excellent blog, Abortion Every Day, Jessica Valenti points out how they are going after state constitutions like in “Montana where Republicans are seeking to redefine the state constitution’s right to privacy so it doesn’t include abortion.”
Furthermore, Wyoming Republicans want to “allow the legislature to ‘make declarations interpreting the Wyoming constitution.’ (And because why stop there,” Valenti writes, “the bill would also strip state funding for life-saving abortions.)”
3. They are also aggressively going after ballot measures. In the six states where abortion was on the ballot, abortion rights won. Rather than actually represent the people who elected them, the GOP in Ohio, Arkansas, South Dakota and Missouri want to stack the deck against them.
Ohio Republicans are trying to raise the threshold on passing amendments to the state’s Constitution from 50% to 60%. They want to sink a proposed amendment declaring that people have the right to make their own reproductive decisions and prohibiting the state’s interference. Missouri too tried to raise the threshold from 50% to 57%.
♀ In Arkansas, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation that made those wanting to place an initiative on the ballot collect signatures from 50 of the state’s 75 counties when it previously was 15 counties. This is after failing to impose a supermajority threshold for adopting constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives, something South Dakota tried as well.
♀ Failing there, South Dakota “banned petitioners from gathering signatures in front of two government buildings—a move,” Rick Weiland, co-founder of Dakotans for Health, says “is voter suppression and another attack on direct democracy.”
♀ Republicans in Missouri have taken the easy road of just lying by claiming that “restoring abortion rights would cost the state billions of dollars.” The actual cost estimated by the state auditor? $51,000.
♀ ABC News reports that state legislatures introduced 140 bills in their efforts to disenfranchise their citizens. Twelve have passed so far. State Constitutions are now fair game. If Republican legislators don’t like them, they give themselves the right to change it while, at one and the same time, stripping that right from voters.
4. Elected by the people, state district attorneys are in the crosshairs if they decide to follow the will of the voters and not go after those who have abortions. That’s why 15 Republican state Attorneys General want the right to remove them from office. Texas wants to fine them for not prosecuting abortion cases. Florida’s fanatical Gov. DeSantis did fire district attorney Andrew Warren for declaring that he would ignore abortion cases.
5. Idaho wants to criminalise travel across state lines for an abortion, starting by criminalizing anyone taking a minor across state lines for an abortion without consent from their parents. They could face felony charges. They’ve made up a “crime” and given it the outrageous name of “abortion trafficking.” While confined to minors—for now—the aim is to stop all women and others from being able to travel to states where abortion is legal.
THE BITTER TASTE OF FASCISM
Those who are experiencing the bitter taste of fascism are women, and others who can become pregnant. However you may define it, it is fascism when someone else (and in Texas it can be anyone else) can control your body and the most personal of decisions as well as determining if you live or die.
All that is wrapped up in the mean-spirited, extremely cruel abortion bans sweeping the USA. Stopping the destruction of democracy has everything to do with women’s struggle for freedom. That’s what’s at stake.
. The leading cause of death of pregnant women in the U.S. is murder, mainly from intimate partner violence. “The recent dismantling of women’s reproductive rights in the U.S. brings further urgency to these issues….For instance, reproductive coercion, a common aspect of intimate partner violence, increases the risk of unintended pregnancy, while restricting access to abortion endangers women as unwanted pregnancies potentially amplify risks in abusive relationships,” wrote BMJ (British Medical Journal) in a press release.