The New Assault on Women’s Rights

Chicago, Illinois

Those “fundamentalist extremists” are at it again, trying to force women back to the Dark Ages. Christian fundamentalists, that is.

Intoxicated by their recent success at the voting booth, Christian fundamentalists are no longer satisfied with pressing their claim that fetal rights supercede those of a living, breathing woman. They are now championing the rights of the “unborn” zygote, a fertilized egg, destroyed by oral contraceptives in the moments after conception.

In a battle now raging in at least 23 states, the Christian Right has expanded its crusade against abortion to include these “killer” birth control pills. Pharmacy by pharmacy, members of “Pharmacists for Life” are refusing to fill doctors’ prescriptions for emergency “morning after” pills and other oral contraceptives.

In addition, these pharmacists of conscience refuse to refer patients to other pharmacists to perform the deadly deed. Karen Bauer, the group’s president, stated plainly, “A pharmacy should be for healing. It should not be for killing.”

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Bush is doing his part to further advance anti-abortion mythology, announcing on April 22 his administration’s intent to aggressively enforce “The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of 2002,” requiring doctors to keep a fetus alive that survives an abortion.

Bush administration officials admitted they don’t know how often a fetus survives an abortion and noted no complaints about a lack of enforcement. This could be because there aren’t any. No medical advancement can alter the laws of anatomical development, which preclude fetal survival outside the womb before hearts and lungs develop around the twentieth week of pregnancy.

The overwhelming majority of abortions after this point are performed only to save the health or life of the woman. In fact, only four one-hundredths of 1 percent of legal abortions are performed after the second trimester. And more than 95 percent of all abortions are performed during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

With ever more outlandish discourse, the Christian Right has gained the upper hand in the battle over abortion in Bush’s second term. But the pro-choice movement has helped pave the way.

Just one year ago, a million pro-choice supporters gathered for the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C. Surely, the human material exists to form a “Pharmacists for Choice” group, to picket the local pharmacy that refuses to dispense birth control pills and to assert the rights of the three million women who face unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. each year. Yet the pro-choice movement is ceding ideological ground as fast as the Christian Right demands it.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation’s largest pro-choice organization, offered “no comment” in response to Bush’s absurd announcement on “born-alive” fetuses. Its silence is deafening.

The pro-choice movement has reached a crisis point, stemming directly from its uncritical support for the Democratic Party. Having featured Hillary Clinton as an “honored guest” at last year’s March for Women’s Lives, the women’s movement is paralyzed now that Clinton is leading the party’s full retreat on abortion rights.

In January, Clinton called abortion a “sad, even tragic choice” in an overture to the religious right–while asking “people of good faith to find common ground in this debate.”

Feminist Naomi Wolf, a political consultant for both Al Gore and Bill Clinton, has long stumped for the other side on key aspects of the abortion debate. In a 1997 New York Times editorial, Wolf called on pro-choice supporters to join abortion opponents to lower the nation’s “shamefully high abortion rate.”

“The pro-choice movement should give God a seat at the table,” urged Wolf, lambasting the pro-choice movement for framing its defense of abortion rights around “a woman’s right to choose,” which she claimed is “abstract.” Perhaps not surprisingly, Wolf is now proposing a ban on abortion after the first trimester, as Nation columnist Katha Pollitt noted with dismay in the May 2 issue.

Mainstream feminists and their organizations are doing more than shifting gears in the struggle for abortion rights. They are following the Democratic Party in abandoning it, at the very moment when the anti-abortion crusade is moving ahead at full throttle.

SHARON SMITH’s new book is Women and Socialism. She can be reached at: sharon@internationalsocialist.org










More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring