Legal Rights for Fertilized Eggs

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story describing how now there is a ballot initiative underway in Colorado to grant full legal rights to fertilized eggs.

The result: Abortion would no longer be an option, it would be considered “murder.” Women who take birth control pills or use IUDs ­ as well as doctors who prescribe them ­ could be charged with “murder” for preventing a fertilized egg from adhering to the uterine wall. Miscarriages could be investigated by the state. Women would be forcefully enslaved to their reproduction.

A year after South Dakota nearly criminalized all abortion; a few months after Ohio proposed a requirement for women to get permission of the man involved before seeking an abortion, or else turn in a list to the state of all their sexual partners; while legal prosecution is underway against the courageous Dr. Tiller for performing late-term abortions; a few months after the Supreme Court upheld the so-called “Partial Birth Abortion Ban;” as a young man in Texas is already in jail for life for assisting his girlfriend in self-inducing an abortion after a judge lied to her about her options; as a movement of Christian fascist pharmacists across the country are refusing to prescribe birth control to women, and so much more All I could think while reading this article is: “PEOPLE: WAKE THE FUCK UP AND STOP SLEEPWALKING TOWARDS FASCISM!”

Women are human beings, not incubators. Intellectually, creatively, politically, and socially we are capable of everything that men are capable of. The fact that we are capable of giving birth is simply one element of our biology — not the central or defining thing about our capabilities and it should not be the central or defining thing in determining our role in society. If women are not free to determine for themselves when and whether to bear children, then not only do women suffer unspeakably from the disrespect, brutality, foreclosed lives and oppression bound up with this, but society suffers immeasurably from the squandering of half of humanity’s potential. The role of women is a defining aspect of any society; If women are not free, then no one can be free.

Right now, two futures for women are posed. Either we step out of bounds of politics as usual, get out in the streets in a furious political uprising, challenge and shake people loose from the ignorance and oppressive relations prescribed in the Bible, put something on the line now ­ OR ­ we are passively accepting the enslavement of the female half of humanity.

This is no hyperbole. The stated aim of the movement to end abortion is also to end birth control and to reestablish the role of women as that of “helpmeets” to their husbands and fathers. They are not planning on merely taking us back to the days of under-the-table dangerous back-alley abortions, they are laying the legal basis, constructing ethical arguments, and creating a cultural atmosphere where those involved in providing women with either birth control or abortions will be hunted down, tried, and punished as murderers. Meanwhile, “Purity Balls” where girls exchange vows with, and pledge their virginity to, their fathers until they are passed off to their husbands are springing up around the country, “abstinence only” is spreading ignorance and shame throughout the schools and overseas, and homosexuals are being demonized and denied basic legal rights. All this is rooted in a literalist interpretation of the bible with all the horrors that entails. Specifically, but not only, the insistence that women be unto their husbands as their husbands are unto the lord (Ephesians 5:22) and that they leave it up to god (not the use of contraception or abortion) to determine how many children they will bear.

There is nothing “moral” about any of this. The Bible was written two thousand years ago by human beings to justify and instill with supernatural authority the oppressive societies they were seeking to hold together. This was a slave-owning, ignorant, warring and brutally patriarchal society and the Bible, accordingly, insists on the obedience of slaves, the slaughtering of people of other religions, the stoning of non-virgin brides and so much more. This is a book whose relations and “morals” should be left in history. Instead, it is being is being used to justify a Christian fascist agenda, it is very far along, and it is NOT going away without a fight.

Face it: the Democrats, and the “pro-choice leaders” who are tied to them, are not stopping this direction, they are facilitating it! They have accepted and are promoting the Christian fascist logic that there is something wrong with abortion (Hillary calls it a “tragic choice”), that women’s most valuable role is as mothers (they claim to be the party that is better, not for women, but for mothers and families), and they are lulling people, one compromise at a time, into a future that no one should want to live in (no one even bothered to filibuster Supreme Court appointees John Roberts or Samuel Alito). At a time when birth control and abortion are more in more danger than at any point since Roe V. Wade, it is widely acknowledged that the Democrats have surrendered the field and would prefer to change the subject.

Meanwhile, there are hundreds of millions of people in this country who ­ if they understood what the sustained assault on abortion is really about and what kind of future it is really leading towards ­ would be revolted. There are those who came of age in the movements of the 60’s and 70’s who are watching in horror as the advances they fought for and won are being rolled back. There is a new generation that is stirring and looking for a way to change all that is wrong in the world today ­ from the wars of aggression, the torture, to nooses appearing across the country to the oppression, degradation and brutality inflicted on women. And there are others.

Taking the long view, the notion that women are human beings equal to men and capable of participating fully in all realms of human society is still extremely new and extremely embattled on a world-historic scale. It really was introduced to the world on a large stage with the revolutions first in the Soviet Union and later in China because of the level of participation of women and of the transformations in relations between men and women brought about in those societies. Since those revolutions were reversed decades ago, many who once fought for complete liberation for women have lowered their sights and the rulers of this country and others have worked to forcefully reassert traditional morality and traditions chains on women.

Here we see a reminder that there is no guarantee that history will always move forward. What happens in any given era is determined by how the people understand and act on the conditions they find themselves in. Today, we are confronted by a powerful movement to enslave women. But, there also exists the potential power among the people, if we dare to act on it, to challenge and reverse this and makes strides, once again, towards the complete emancipation of women.

Taking the long-view once again it is clear that every advance for women has come from those who have dared to struggle and sacrifice against unjust authority, defy and upend patriarchal notions about the role and nature of women, and move massively outside the channels of official politics. Through this process, much has been learned and new cultures and new ways for women and men to relate have been forged, creating seeds of a world we’d actually like to hand down to future generations.

Today, as two futures for women are posed, what we do will determine not only our destinies, but those of future generations. It is time for all of us to stand up. We need abortion on demand and without apology. We need to challenge, not conciliate with, the “morality” of the Bible, especially as it is taken literally. We need to break people free of the Democrats and their “politics of the possible” ­ for all this is no more than the politics of facilitating monstrosity. We need to put something on the line to bring about a world where women and men relate with equality and mutual respect, where women participate fully in every sphere, and where all of society is enriched because of it. It is time for a new women’s liberation movement.

SUNSARA TAYLOR writes for Revolution Newspaper and sits on the Advisory Board of The World Can’t Wait–Drive Out the Bush Regime. She can be reached at: