Over 330 Restrictions on Abortion So Far This Year:

Nothing to Do With “Life,” Everything to Do With the Enslavement of Women

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Vicious and escalating attacks on women’s access to abortion have reached a new level. So far this year, more than 330 restrictions on abortion have been introduced by 43 states, and as of April 2, over 50 were made into law. (Guttmacher Institute)

Just imagine: A woman in Pennsylvania, many miles from an abortion clinic, was locked up for buying the abortion pill for her daughter (as laws continue to pass that restrict the use of medication abortion). A SWAT team stormed a high school in Dallas when a fetus was found in the toilet, looking for the “suspect”—a teenage girl who miscarried. These are just two small examples of the kind of dystopian future to which this anti-abortion path leads.

What’s happening?

Abortion providers are heroes
Sendoff for the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, summer 2013, New York City.

As of May 1, 19 states have introduced bills that target doctors and providers: Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP). This is a whole category of law that ranges from yanking public funding to casting a net of medically unnecessary standards, regulations, and requirements that are applied to no other outpatient medical facility—including facilities that offer much higher-risk procedures! These laws have had the purpose and effect of closing a staggering number of abortion clinics across the country in recent years.

On July 1, Tennessee will join the 22 other states that have enacted a law requiring abortion clinics to undergo medically unnecessary and financially impossible renovations; this threatens to close half of Tennessee’s abortion clinics, and is estimated to leave only four standing. This kind of law—requiring clinics to remodel to become “ambulatory surgical centers,” or mini-emergency rooms—was responsible for the forced closure of more than a dozen abortion clinics in Texas alone in 2014. Abortion, a simple and safe procedure, does not in any scientific sense require these types of facilities. There are abortion clinics that have operated for decades without ever having to call an ambulance. These laws are all about making abortion impossible to access.

Kansas set a dangerous precedent by banning the most common and safe procedure for performing an abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy. Other states, like Ohio, have introduced laws that would ban abortion at six weeks, when the “fetal heartbeat” can be detected—before most women know they are pregnant. These bills hyper-focus on the heartbeat of a fetus (a potential life growing inside of a woman), while devaluing the woman’s real and full life and forcing her into motherhood against her will.

Arizona and Arkansas have joined the 27 other states that require doctors to read a script of anti-abortion junk science that has been disproven (called “counseling”). This includes “informing” women of risks that aren’t real, and unscientific ways of characterizing the fetus—all geared toward making a woman second-guess her decision, and filling her with fear, guilt, and shame.

Florida and North Carolina are joining the many other states that legally require women to make multiple trips to the quickly diminishing clinics by imposing “waiting periods” of 24 to 72 hours between their first appointment and their abortion procedure. These waiting periods, coupled with the false “counseling,” are crafted to delay, dismiss, and confuse women seeking to make a crucial and perfectly responsible choice about their reproduction.

On the federal level, the House of Representatives just passed a ban on abortions 20 weeks into pregnancy. This means that women who are unable to access an abortion before that, women who do not know they are pregnant until this point, women who have experienced abuse or have a change in life circumstances, or women who discover dangerous risks of their pregnancy or serious fetal anomalies will all be forced to carry forward a pregnancy and bear a child against their will! Also included in this anti-abortion bill is a 48-hour waiting period. Finally, there is a requirement for the doctor to call the police on their patients (or “alert authorities”) if they are minors who don’t want to tell their parents for a number of reasons.

All this and more add up to an unacceptable leap backwards in the battle for reproductive control. As birth control and abortion become impossible to access, women are forced to bear children they don’t want or can’t take care of. If this direction toward completely robbing women of rights does not change, a generation of women will be cut off from being able to determine their own futures, find themselves trapped in abusive relationships, attempt desperate and dangerous methods to self-induce abortions, and have their hopes and futures foreclosed. Forced motherhood is female enslavement—the open regarding of women as tools, property, instead of people. Whether these laws target minors, doctors, clinics, late-term abortions, public funding, whatever, they are part of a concerted national attack on women’s humanity.

“Life begins at conception” is a cover-up

You’ve probably seen a similar scene before: Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, when he signed the bill banning most abortions in the second trimester into law, did so against a backdrop of giant pictures of fetuses and in the name of “life.” Have you ever noticed that these types of pictures always have the fetus on its own, as if it did not rely on and exist inside of a human being? It’s as if the woman whose uterus the fetus is attached to does not exist at all. It is that “invisible” woman’s life and future that are in the crosshairs of this whole anti-abortion machine.

Also, all those fetus pictures are months past conception and look more like babies than a fertilized egg does (though no matter how developed it is inside the woman, it is still part of a woman’s body until it’s born). To say that life begins at conception is to say that the continued development of (literally) a cluster of cells, or a fertilized egg, should take precedence over the real needs of every real woman.

Abortion Rights Freedom Riders on the Capitol steps in Jackson, MS, November 4, 2013.
Abortion Rights Freedom Riders on the Capitol steps in Jackson, MS, November 4, 2013. Photo: StopPatriarchy.org

It’s completely immoral to force women to give birth and raise children they don’t want. Saying that fetuses are already children is just one way to reduce women to the role of incubators or baby-making machines. As more independent “personhood” is given to the living tissue inside of women, the more the humanity of women themselves is denied. The fact is, a fetus is not a baby, a woman is a full human being, and no one should ever be treated like a factory or mere life support system, without any control of their lives. This is, in effect, enslavement. To find out more about what an abortion actually is, see “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose.”

“Dismemberment” of women’s humanity

What happened in Kansas, and then the next day in Oklahoma, is nothing short of the trampling of the “personhood” of women. The claim being made by those writing and supporting this law is that the dilation and extraction (D&E) procedure, widely accepted in the medical community as the safest way to perform an abortion after 13 weeks, involves the “dismemberment” of a fetus and should not be allowed.

The law itself is full of unscientific and emotional language (humanizing the fetus), and does not offer any exemption for women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest (further dehumanizing women).

“Dismemberment” is not medical language, and therefore legally very murky about when exactly a doctor could be prosecuted. And anyway, what the hell would be wrong with dismembering a fetus, if that is the safest way for a woman to terminate her pregnancy? Again: fetuses are NOT babies! Yet this law sets exactly the wrong priorities, where the fetus is being said to deserve protection and empathy, and women are condemned to forced motherhood and a lifetime of hardship.

A lot of these other recent laws (hundreds have been passed in recent years) have been doing so in the space afforded to them by the Casey vs. Planned Parenthood decision. That 1992 Supreme Court decision said that states have the right to restrict abortion in the name of protecting the woman’s health, as long as it does not place an “undue burden” on women’s right to abortion. As a result, we see the whole avalanche of totally medically unnecessary laws that claim to be about protecting women pushed by people and organizations that openly aim to end all abortions in all circumstances.

However this “dismemberment” law is more along the lines of the federal “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act” passed in 2003, which outlawed a safe and common method for performing abortions in the third trimester. Can you imagine making it illegal for doctors to perform the safest and lowest risk procedure of its kind in another area of medicine? The medical best practice? What if the safest method of heart surgery or brain surgery were outlawed and doctors could be charged with felonies for performing them?

The effect is devastating when a woman needs a second trimester abortion and is denied. Now in 2015, starting but not ending in Kansas, the next stage of banning a medical best practice for abortion is being signed into law. If best practices for doctors in giving women the choice to decide what to do with their futures can be banned at earlier and earlier points in the pregnancy, the legal right to a safe abortion is a formality, not a reality. Read “New Fascist Kansas Law Criminalizes Most Second Trimester Abortions” to find out more about this awful new law.

A crushing combination

Right now, more than 40 states ban abortion at some point in the pregnancy, and at least 10 ban abortions at 20 weeks with the claim that a fetus can feel pain at that point. Now the U.S. House of Representatives has handed to the Senate a federal bill banning abortions after 20-weeks. There are exceptions for pregnancies which put the mother's life in danger, or which result from rape or incest, but even in these cases the bill includes a mandated waiting period with "counseling," and for minors, a requirement of reporting the rape or incest to the authorities. (New York Times). (If the Senate also approves the bill, something that is not expected in the short term, it will become law).

First of all, it should be known widely that the “fetal pain” junk science, just like the junk science that’s being fed to women as part of their mandatory “counseling,” is exactly that: junk. A fetus—even at the point when it has nerves, a nervous system, and reacts to stimuli—still does not feel pain the way a person does, period. It definitely can’t feel the kind of ongoing anguish a woman feels from having her life curtailed and crushed. And anyway: So what if a fetus physically feels pain? Since when is not feeling pain a prerequisite for medical procedures? For more on this, see “A Fetus Cannot Feel Pain, but a Woman Denied the Right to Abortion Suffers Intolerable Pain.”

All these laws enacted together form a vehicle of ruination for women, with the sole purpose of forcing them to give birth against their will. Bans on abortions after 20 weeks, requiring multiple trips and waiting periods that make it harder and harder to terminate pregnancy before it’s illegal, forcing clinics to close, mandating misinformation, and all the rest together, compose a vicious weapon against women. There must be a fight to put women back into the center of the conversation about reproductive rights, because that is actually what all this is about: the enslavement of women.

Women who need abortions didn’t “do anything wrong” and it isn’t a “certain kind of woman” who needs an abortion. For more on why many different kinds of women need abortions, and much more see “Chasing the Abortion,” an interview with a doctor at one of the few abortion clinics left that provide women with abortions in the third trimester. All women must have access to the procedure that can allow them to take their lives in the direction they wish. The current situation—of rapidly growing “abortion deserts” where women are right now being forced into motherhood or driven to risk abuse, prison, and death by giving themselves abortions—is the situation that is being embraced, promoted, and moving toward federal law as we speak.

At Stake: Liberation or Enslavement of Women

Break All the Chains!

Break ALL the Chains!
Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution

Sampler Edition | Full Work

If you are a person who has believed that abortion is “murder,” it is time to take a good look at reality, explore the links in this article, challenge what you’ve been told, and act on the truth that fetuses are NOT babies and women are NOT incubators.

Abortion rights are in a state of unprecedented emergency, and the push to control and degrade women, and redefine them as incubators, is winning. If you are a person who already believes women should have the right to abortion, it is time to get off the sidelines, off the defensive, and fight like hell to change the terms of this debate so we can change the deadly direction in which we are headed.

The anti-abortion agenda leads toward a nightmare for women, and frankly, for all of society, and must be STOPPED. Even if you’ve never thought too much about abortion, but you’re a person who cares about the future of women, what is legally and socially acceptable when it comes to their humanity, hopes, dreams, and freedom or enslavement, don’t wait a minute more. Join the fight for abortion on demand and without apology, and learn more as you fight. (Go to StopPatriarchy.org and the Stop Patriarchy page at revcom.us.)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion or many women having them, if they are pregnant and don’t want to or can’t care for children, period. No woman should be denied that choice, and no woman should be lied to about that choice, or made to feel “irresponsible” or any kind of guilt or shame for deciding against motherhood—no matter how pregnant she is. Fight to end these egregious attacks on women’s humanity, because it really is the liberation or enslavement of women that is at stake.



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