It’s Not About Abortion, But Freedom

With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, an absolute monster gets to make an appointment to the Supreme Court that could have repercussions for decades to come. In fact, Lord Donny has promised to make an appointment to the Court who will be there for at least “40-50 years.” That is frightening for a lot of people, including people who are non-white, LGBTQ, or women of any race or color. Desire his protestations to the contrary, Trump has a list of candidates already, all of whom have been screened by the odious “Federalist Society,” whose ironic name belies the fact that they are a group of lawyers with a penchant for interpreting the Constitution in ways the Founders ever dreamed of. And, every single potential Justice on that list has already been screened for their anti-abortion fervor. In other words, they have all been asked if they would overturn ‘Roe” and they have said yes.

The irony of the Republican “concern for unborn children” has never been more ironic, given their recent support for the terrorist tactics Trump has taken along the border recently and the last 40 years of starving the “already-born.” It is clear their feigned concerned for the fetus ceases the moment the child draws breath on their own. However, what I want to discuss in this column is the overall silliness of referring to this “debate” as being about “abortion,” when that is not what it is about at all. In fact, we should stop calling it the “abortion debate” and call it what it is; a “freedom debate.”

This issue, such as it is, only has one side, really. And the heart of the question in “Roe v. Wade” is, who gets to decide whether or not a woman should be pregnant? Should it be the woman herself, or should we grant the government the power to force all pregnant women to stay pregnant against her will. The current incarnation of the Republican Party, which thinks of itself as ‘”small government,” illogically and implausibly advocates for granting that power to the government and take it away from the woman. Even worse, many oof them believe the government should be able to try, convict and jail all women who choose to not stay pregnant.

Welcome to the “land of the free,” GOP style.

There is more to this “debate” than meets the eye. For example, when I ask the following question, no self-respecting Republican will ever answer, because they cannot:

If we give the government the power to force women to stay pregnant against her will now, don’t we also give them the power to force women to abort once circumstances change? Isn’t that slope quite slippery?

Let’s face it; the Republican Party features an authoritarian ideology that seeks to take away a woman’s authority over her own body. You may think “The Handmaid’s Tale” is dystopian fiction, but a large number of current Republicans do think women have too many rights and should be forced to stay home and have babies. Some of them refer to abortion as as a “holocaust,” which indicates an inability to factor in a woman’s rights. When they use imagery designed to make people believe they’re protecting “babies” from slaughter, don’t buy it. They couldn’t care less about protecting anyone; their focus is complete control. Women don’t “attack” the fetus, and they don’t “kill babies.” In the overwhelming majority of abortion cases, the fetus is incapable of life outside the womb. Republicans know this, which is why they have been passing legislation setting an arbitrary “20 weeks” as the latest that a woman can have an abortion. Make no mistake; they will reduce that in the future. And they will do it because nothing they do is based on science; it’s completely arbitrary. That’s how authoritarians work. Trump is not an outlier; he chose to be a Republican and he is choosing Republican rhetoric to “govern” by, such as it is.

Abortion is about some women simply choosing not to bring an unwanted fetus to term. No one is “attacking it,” they’re removing it from their own body. Consider the following hypothetical situation, and you can see just how inconsistent their view truly is.

(For the right wingers and Trumpers out there, the following is called a hypothetical. Have someone with an education teach you what that is and how it works.)

Suppose you went to the hospital for an appendectomy. While you were recovering from surgery, doctors attached you to another man. They advised you that he would have to stay attached to you in order to stay alive and they require that you stay there for nine months, or he would die. In such a situation, would anyone call you a murderer if you demanded the guy be detached from your lung, and he died as a result? Of course not. Even the most virulent anti-choice fanatic would refuse to even consider “murder” to be the proper term for something like that, and I doubt seriously if they would demand that you be thrown in jail because you ordered him removed. The bottom line is, in that situation, it could not rightfully be said to have killed that person. What killed him was the inability of his lungs to function properly and process air.

Yet, these same people would happily throw any woman in jail who wants a fetus removed from her body. They claim to be honoring the “sanctity of life,” but they apparently don’t “sanctify” all life, because the woman’s needs don’t even enter into their equation, even in cases of “legitimate rape,” a term that Republicans coined in their authoritarian zeal to force women to stay pregnant against their will.

I would have more respect for this “sanctity of life” garbage, if the right wing actually showed some consistency on the issue, but they really don’t. The fact is, those of us who belong to the pro-choice crowd actually do more to prevent abortions than the “sanctity of life” folks ever dreamed of.

Think about it;

  • Republican “sanctity of life” goons work hard to curtail welfare payments to poor families. Never mind that doing so increases the likelihood that a poor woman who gets pregnant will have an abortion. Consider this; right now, more than three-quarters of those families living below the poverty line get ZERO cash assistance right now. How many of the women who can;t afford to work choose abortion because they can’t afford to have a child?
  • Every chance they get, the “sanctity of life” Republicans cut food aid for children, thus making abortion a more viable option. Republicans apparently believe that cuts in Food Stamps/SNAP encourage women to have their baby, but think climate change is a hoax. Why would a poor pregnant woman have a child if she coudn’t afford to feed it?
  • Republicans actively advocate against the inclusion of contraception costs in health insurance, thus ensuring an increase in unwanted pregnancies, which potentially means more abortions.
  • Republicans are the first to label women who get pregnant outside of marriage as “sluts” and other derogatory terms, thus creating a “norm” under which women are more likely to try to get rid of the fetus before they can be ‘”found out.”
  • Women who choose a career are routinely  advised that pregnancy could put the kibosh on their careers, and Republicans refuse to consider any measure that would prevent such discrimination, which most certainly causes some women to choose to terminate a pregnancy.
  • While Republican “sanctity of life” fools tout “adoption” as an alternative to abortion, they actively try to limit the population of “acceptable” adoptive parents by deny adoption rights to gay couples.
  • Republicans have been killing sex education programs in schools for years, to replace them with “abstinence only” programs that have been proven Ineffective.
  • Republicans have tried to kill Planned Parenthood, which prevents far more abortions than any “sanctity of life” group out there.

Essentially, anti-choice Republicans only want laws banning abortion, even though they have been proven to have little or no effect on the number of abortions. It is clear they have no real interest in reducing the number of abortions, or they would be on our side. They’re interested in one thing; giving themselves control over a woman’s reproduction processes.

There is no “abortion debate.” Call it what it is; a “freedom debate.” Republicans don’t want women to feel free. While the Republican Party talks about “freedom” and the “Constitution,” their rhetoric  features a whole lot of exceptions, especially for anyone who isn’t a rich white man.


Also published on Medium.