Christian Fascists Driving Towards Goal of Eliminating Abortion Rights, Enslaving Women
Arkansas Enacts Bill Banning Almost All Second Trimester Abortions
Updated February 15, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On January 27, the governor of Arkansas signed HB1032, a law that makes dilation and evacuation (D&E—the simplest, safest, and most common abortion procedure performed between 14 and 24 weeks of pregnancy) a felony, carrying six years in prison for the physician who performs it.
In addition to threatening abortion providers with long jail terms and with being branded as felons, the law allows the woman, spouse, or parents to sue the physician after the abortion simply for having performed it (i.e., not for malpractice, but for competently and effectively performing an established medical procedure that was requested by the patient.)
Taken together, this means that even for the relatively small number of physicians who perform D&E abortions now, it will take great courage to continue to do so, and doctors will be under great pressure to not do them. And because other possible procedures are much more invasive and physically traumatic, this law means that second-trimester abortion—supposedly protected by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision—will be effectively illegal in Arkansas, if this law goes into effect as scheduled this spring.
This law is a major attack: About one in five abortions in Arkansas in 2015 was by D&E. While it is much safer and better for women to get abortions in the first trimester, many women do not, sometimes because they have to overcome resistance from their family, or their own confusion about this medical procedure, more often because past laws and attacks on abortion rights have made it increasingly difficult to get access to abortion, and more expensive to pay for. Consequently, poor women and women of color, along with rural women and women in abusive relationships, are much more likely to be in need of second-trimester abortions... and are often in a much more disastrous position if they are forced to bear a child against their will.
The Science of Human Reproduction vs. the Manipulative Lunacy of This Christian Fascist Bill
This law is based on and consciously promotes a deeply unscientific understanding of women’s reproductive process and of abortion. Six pages long, the law never once uses the words “embryo” or “fetus”—the scientific terms for the developing structures that are still just a part of the woman’s body, like any other group of cells, even while they have the potential to become independent human beings (but only after much further development, and after they separate from and leave the woman’s body). Likewise, the bill never uses the medical term “dilation and evacuation,” but instead refers 27 times to the made-up term “dismemberment abortion.”
Human reproduction is not like the depictions in cartoons, where a fully formed, full size, laughing and gurgling baby is bouncing around inside the pregnant woman, planning its big coming out party! During the second trimester, the embryo is between three and twelve inches long; its brain is still in formation; its lungs do not function; it cannot live outside the womb. Yet the bill refers to this fetus—15 times—as a “child,” and has gross descriptions of this “child” being pulled to pieces with forceps during the “dismemberment abortion” (i.e., the D&E), giving the impression that an actual baby is being grotesquely tortured.
Through this, a simple medical procedure that gives women the ability to decide when or if they will take the life altering step of having a child, is presented as a horrific and shameful crime.
The Bill’s Legal Theory: Women Are Property of Their Parents or Their Husbands
But there is more to this bill—an “innovative” passage that take further steps in reducing women to a half-human legal status: The law allows the spouse (if legally married) or the parents (if the woman is a minor) to sue the doctor for “damages,” and to prevent him from performing D&E procedures in the future. Even if the pregnancy resulted from spousal rape, or from parental incest, the perpetrators are still allowed to bring suit against the doctor (although in those cases they cannot sue for damages).
This part of the law means that if a woman decides not to have a child, her spouse or her parents are legally considered to be “injured parties.” This amounts to saying that parents and husbands (even rapists!) can assert “property rights” over “their” women and their biological capacity to produce children. It is legally enshrining the concept that the woman “owes” children to her husband (or parents), and her abortion decision is thus “violating their rights”... to her womb! So, although the law directs the lawsuit be against the doctor and not the woman, the actual message is that women are property of their parents and spouses, and that they have not only a “moral,” but a legal obligation to produce offspring for them.
This logic has been spelled out even more plainly in a proposed bill in neighboring Oklahoma. HB1441 states that no abortion can be performed without the written consent of the father of the fetus. The only exception would be if the pregnancy could be shown to be the result of rape or incest, or if it endangered the woman’s life.
The bill’s sponsor told The Intercept, “I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions.” Addressing women with unwanted pregnancies, he said: “… after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body [meaning the fetus], when you’re the host and you invited that in.”
This bill passed in committee on February 14 by a 5-2 vote and now heads for the House in the Oklahoma legislature.
These are just two of hundreds of increasingly oppressive restrictions on women’s reproductive rights passed in dozens of states in recent years, which have already made abortion virtually impossible to access for tens of millions of women; have increasingly driven home the message that women should return to their “traditional” role as fundamentally “helpmates” to men, who bear and rear their children; and have created conditions where women are more and more forced to do so. Over and over the message (even from liberals like Michelle Obama) is that no matter what a woman’s dreams, capabilities, or potential contributions to society as a whole, her most important role is bearing and raising children!
Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement
In one form or another, this view of women’s lives being subordinate to their responsibilities as mothers is being promoted by all sections of the ruling class, and causing great harm. But the unrelenting attacks on reproductive rights, such as the hundreds of state laws just mentioned, are a key spear point of the drive primarily by the Christian fascist section of the ruling class to put a full stop to the striving of women to be equal human beings, fully participating in every sphere of society. For the last few decades these forces have been entrenching themselves in and taking over state legislatures, which now serve as petri dishes for one poisonous bill after another, attacking women as well as Black people, immigrants, refugees, LGBT people, and on and on.
These state level attacks go hand in hand with, and have received new impetus from, the attacks on the national and even international level coming down from the newly installed fascist Trump-Pence regime. There is Trump’s executive order expanding the “gag rule” that cuts off health and social service agencies around the world from U.S. aid if they even mention abortion to their clients; plans to cut funding for Planned Parenthood; and Trump’s public commitment to only appoint judges to the U.S. Supreme Court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Taken as a whole, this is a multi-pronged campaign to drive women back into conditions of open subjugation not seen for many decades, as a key part of the overall reactionary lockdown of U.S. society. Forced motherhood is a lynchpin of this campaign, and is in essence female enslavement.
This is truly a nightmare in the making for the vast majority of humanity. The fervent drive of this system, with the fascists playing an extreme role, to subjugate women and other oppressed people, should drive home to all people who want to see and live in a world fit for human beings to fiercely resist these attacks, and go from the “defensive” to the “offensive”—fighting to not only defeat and drive out these fascists, but to continue on to a liberating revolution paving the way to a socialist society here, as part of fighting for a communist world.
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