02 December 2021

An essential freedom, not a political chess piece

Abortion rights are back on the front burner, with Mississippi's forced-birth law now before the wingnutized Supreme Court.  Roe v Wade and the federal guarantee of abortion choice are imperiled as never before.

A few on the left seem to almost welcome the possibility of Roe being struck down, believing that this would galvanize women voters and bring a wave of Democratic victories next November (I don't believe this is the case, but that's a matter for another post).  But abortion is an essential freedom, and should never be treated as expendable or as a political chess piece.  There is no decision more personal than whether or not to have a child, no freedom more basic than choosing whether or not to allow the presence of another organism inside one’s own body.

The personal-freedom issue renders the other common arguments irrelevant.  Treating a fetus as the moral equivalent of a person is self-evidently absurd, but even if it were the moral equivalent of a person, it would not matter.  There is no obligation to allow another "person" to inhabit and exploit your own body -- a slavery beyond slavery.

Nor does it matter that pregnancy results from sex, which is (usually) voluntary.  Sex is not a morally noxious act for which one participant (but only one, not both) deserves to be punished by being forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy.  We don't refuse medical help to a person who breaks a leg while skiing on the grounds that breaking a leg is a known possible consequence of skiing -- not even if the person neglected to take some available precautions against the unwanted consequence.

It would make no difference if the forced-birthists were willing to adopt or financially support the children born as a result of abortion being banned.  The decision must still be up to the woman, and her personal autonomy must not be infringed just because the person forcing her to do something she doesn't want to do is willing to make some financial sacrifice for the privilege.

Nor do the taboos of the prohibitionists' religion matter.  Religious taboos are entirely arbitrary, and are irrelevant to people who are not members of the religion in question.  If there were a religion which fervently believed that the act of watching TV constituted murder and that TV-watching should therefore be outlawed, the rest of us would be under no obligation to give them a hearing or submit to restrictions on TV-watching.

Finally, it makes no difference which sex the person trying to interfere with one's freedom is.  Limits on abortion do not become any less of an attack on individual self-determination even if the person imposing them is also female.  By analogy, military conscription is a similar outrage against personal freedom which historically has almost always applied only to males, but the outrage is not any less merely because most of the politicians imposing it have also been men.  Anyone who supports military conscription or compulsory national service is my mortal enemy, whether it's a man or a woman.  And anyone who works to prohibit abortion is a mortal enemy of personal freedom, again, regardless of which sex they are.

Remember that even if Roe is completely struck down, that doesn't mean that abortion immediately becomes illegal across the country.  It just means that laws on the issue return to the jurisdiction of the states (a few states have forced-birth "trigger laws" on their books, laws which are currently unenforceable due to Roe but which would immediately take effect if it were struck down).  In blue states, abortion rights will remain protected and little will change.  In Republican-dominated states, restrictions are to be expected.  It's to the fight against these, and to the need for "underground railroad" strategies to help needy women get to free states when necessary, that the focus must turn if the Supreme Court decides to elevate religious taboo over legal precedent.


Blogger Mike said...

I see comments that men should be required to get vasectomies. Then if they want children they would have the vasectomy reversed. The problem with that is all vasectomy reversals don't work. And there has been growing evidence that a reversed vasectomy creates a greater risk for a baby with birth defects.

02 December, 2021 02:28  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

It's outrageous, but I remember that somebody did warn the country that this would happen if Cheeto was elected. And he was. And it did happen. With the Opus Day Shrew and the Gambling Drunk Fratboy enshrined in SCOTUS by Bitch McConnell it was just a matter of time for Roe to go away. The religulous and the Rethugs are one and the same in America.
As you say, the idea is to leave it to the states and red states may stay the same. Given the chance, the less fortunate (poor) will be burdened with unwanted children and the privileged will grab a fly to a neighbouring state to deal with the issue. Oppression: the tool of the GOP.


02 December, 2021 05:57  
Blogger Bohemian said...

It's such a complex Issue it's always been one to Trigger people and be exploited by Politics. You made a great Argument for why it should be a personal Choice not restricted by those who disagree with that decision.

02 December, 2021 05:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mike: No, men should not be forced to get vasectomies. That's an infringement on personal freedom as well. All these stupid boutique "twist" ideas on the fringes of the abortion issue are a waste of time. Abortion needs to remain fully legal and accessible, period.

Sixpence: The fundies have been fixated on banning abortion since the 1970s (and hard-line Catholics for even longer), so this has long been an issue with electing Republicans generally. It was just a matter of how long it would take until they could get the Supreme Court packed.

Bohemian: Thanks. Personal freedom is critically important and there's no more basic personal-freedom issue than this.

02 December, 2021 07:41  
Blogger Mary said...

Agree 100%..It’s really the religious right. Probably most republicans don’t really care , they just need the votes of the far right to win. It’s about staying in power.

02 December, 2021 08:01  
Blogger NickM said...

You are absolutely right to say this is way too important to be used as a political pawn. Alas, I sus[ect that boat has already sailed because I cannot think of a single issue in the USA which is as devisive and which the religious right would cosider as big a win both practically (in that at least a lot of them genuinely believe abortion = murder) and symbolically. Any new large scale restrictions on abortion and it's gay rights, sex education, etc next in the sights. Part of the issue is of course there really can be no debate or compromise. It's a zero-sum game.

02 December, 2021 08:58  
Blogger Lady M said...

I see banning abortion as the equivalent to forcing people to give up one of their kidneys - nobody has a right to live of the organs of another. Of course the vasectomy thing is ludicrous. It is only thrown out there as a way for men to realize how invasive and disgusting it would be for politicians to dictate what they do with their bodies.

02 December, 2021 09:07  
Blogger CAS said...

If only there was some unavoidable consequence for men who cause a pregnancy, like having to financially support the kid and pay for its healthcare until the age of 18. I think the Right would have a completely different stance on the matter.

"Elevate religious taboo over legal precedent"— well-stated but extremely discouraging. Thanks for pointing out the course of action people should take when/if the Mississippi law is upheld.

02 December, 2021 09:19  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mary: The religious right are the biggest faction of Republicans these days. As for Republican politicians, who knows what most of them believe in, if anything. They're mostly driven by fear of their own feral voters, hence the pandering to Trump and the religious craziness.

NickM: Oh, they're genuine fanatics on the issue, all right. It may have been adopted for cynical reasons in the 1970s, but it's an all-consuming passion now. You just have to look at their own websites to see that.

Lady M: Exactly. It is treating women as utensils rather than people.

I see the point they're trying to make about vasectomy, but I've had a vasectomy, and as surgeries go it's one of the least traumatic and easy-to-recover-from that there is. Not at all comparable to being forced to go through with an unwanted pregnancy. That's why I use the analogy of military conscription -- total negation of all personal freedom for a period of typically a year, with some risk of injury or death involved.

CAS: The goal is to minimize unavoidable consequences for everyone. Men already have less serious consequences to worry about in such situations -- I just want the same to be true for women.

There's no dodging the fact that the Supreme Court is captured and the wingnuts there have the power to do this, so the question is how to respond if it happens. With any defeat, the options are basically to declare game over and sink into moaning and whining about it, or figure out how to fight back and do the best one can to preserve and restore freedom (I call this the "Woe v Raid" choice). Only those who do the latter will actually accomplish anything.

02 December, 2021 10:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When we think of religious persecution, we think other countries like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. But right here in America is our own version of religious persecution.

The right wing fascists have determined their religious beliefs regarding abortion, should be imposed on everyone. Not only impose on everyone, but persecute people who aid and abet. That is religious persecution.

02 December, 2021 11:39  
Blogger Victor said...

"Welcome to Gilead, Handmaids."
That would be an appropriate headline when the Roberts SSCOTUS (Stenchy Supreme Court Of The "United" States) releases its decision to eviscerate Roe & Casey.

These Christo-Fascists won't be happy with just destroying a woman's right to choose.
They'll be going to the SSCOTUS next to attack LGBTQ rights - like gay marriage, and adoptions.
And they'll go after other rights, too.

Do you think there'll be a 2nd civil war?
On this subject, POTUS US Grant reportedly said that a 2nd civil war's dividing line "won't be Mason's or Dixon's, but patriotism and intelligence on one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other."
I respect you and your opinions, Infidel.
So what say you on the subject of another civil war?

02 December, 2021 20:53  
Blogger Jack said...

I've never understood the impulse to force someone who doesn't want a child to have one. I can't see how that benefits anybody. Then again, I suppose there is a lot about fundamentalist Christianity I've never understood and likely never will.

03 December, 2021 03:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: Christianity never was any less totalitarian than Islam. The difference is that the West has become more secular and religion here has lost most of the power it used to have to impose itself on society by force, whereas in the Middle East it still keeps much more of that power. Let Christianity get its bloody hands on any of the levers of state power, and its true nature quickly re-emerges.

03 December, 2021 05:37  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Victor: Gay rights, if they go after that, could be an interesting battle. The secular right wing in the US has pretty much reconciled itself to same-sex marriage, recognizing that the great majority of the public now supports it. But the extreme religionists have not. I've seen a fair amount of ire on their sites directed against the secular right and the Republican party for, as they see it, dropping out of the holy war to roll back gay rights. I think such an effort would lead to internal conflict among Republicans.

On the issue of a second civil war, obviously Grant was right. It would be between secular modernity and religion-fueled totalitarianism, an extension of the war between those forces which has been raging in the Western world for over four hundred years. But I don't believe the abortion issue itself can lead to a real civil war. I just don't see any scenario where large numbers of people end up taking up guns and shooting each other over this, because neither side would be able to advance its cause that way. At most, a repeal of Roe v Wade would lead to radically different abortion laws in red and blue states, and a flow of desperate women from the former to the latter to get the procedure, but I just don't see how either side would think they have anything to gain from large-scale armed violence between the two camps.

Even if the Supreme Court struck down federal same-sex marriage -- and I think that's unlikely -- the most probable scenario is that it goes back to the sates, so the blue states keep it and (some) red states outlaw it. Again, I can't see an actual war breaking out over that.

If a post-2024 Republican Congress and president passed a nationwide abortion ban, I could imagine some blue states defying it and facilitating the continuation of abortion services in their territory, a step toward breakdown of the central authority over the states (but similar to what we've already seen with sanctuary cities defying federal immigration law and sanctuary counties defying state gun laws). But even then I don't see how that could lead to a large-scale military conflict.

The only issue I believe could start a real civil war in the US would be an attempt to impose serious, confiscatory gun control on the red rural areas where gun culture is deeply entrenched, and I don't believe the federal government will ever actually try to do that, because smart Democratic politicians know what would happen.

03 December, 2021 05:56  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Jack: It's all about controlling and punishing female sexuality. Women who have sex outside the narrow range of circumstances tolerated by the Christian taboo system must be humiliated for it and made to suffer consequences. That's what this is really about.

03 December, 2021 06:00  
Blogger Victor said...

Thank you, Infidel.

But I still worry about a trend starting of angry armed crackers shooting people with whom they disagree - regardless of Blue or Red state.
The only "lives" the "Party of Life" cares about are their own.
And even then, not so much: See, anti-vaxxers.

03 December, 2021 07:18  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Yes, we've had those kinds of outbreaks of right-wing violence for a long time -- shootings of abortion doctors, the Oklahoma City bombing, etc -- and I'm sure that will continue. But I don't expect anything approaching a civil war.

03 December, 2021 08:43  
Blogger Ali Redford said...

Thank you for this post.

04 December, 2021 15:46  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks for reading. I felt it was an important point to make.

05 December, 2021 01:35  

Post a Comment

<< Home