FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest

Alabama — led by utterly clueless male legislators — just passed the most restrictive ban on abortion in the country, with Georgia and Missouri piling on. Other states dominated by right-wing Republican politicians are jockeying to join in.

Their aim is to get the courts, newly packed with right-wing judges appointed by Trump, to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark precedent that established a woman’s right to choose in the early months of pregnancy.

The new laws generally deem abortion murder after six or eight weeks, no exceptions. This is often before women are even aware that they are pregnant. Some of the laws would imprison doctors; others lock up mothers. This is what the anti-abortion movement has demanded. It has been spurred on by cynical politicians like Donald Trump, who devoted part of his State of the Union address to a blood-curdling description of infanticide that came completely from his own ugly imagination.

Now anti-abortion activists are on the verge of getting what they want — the ability to prosecute doctors and/or pregnant women for murder if they choose to abort a fetus early in their pregnancies. Even if the life of the mother is at risk, doctors would be loath to risk imprisonment by taking the necessary step to save her.

Suddenly, right-wing politicians and moral hypocrites are expressing dismay at their victory. Donald Trump, who not many years ago was entirely pro-choice, tweeted that he didn’t support the Alabama laws, that he believed in exceptions for rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother. Apparently murder isn’t always murder for the president — or for televangelist Pat Robertson, or for House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who said the law “goes further than I believe,” because he would allow “exceptions” as a matter of “personal belief.”

But as E.J. Dionne notes in the Washington Post, if personal beliefs can carve out exceptions to murder, why would Trump’s or McCarthy’s exceptions weigh more than the considered choices of the women struggling with whether to take a fetus to term? Cynical male politicians weighing how to placate the anti-abortion conservatives without alienating the vast majority aren’t making a more moral, more reasoned decision than the woman involved.

Lost in this posturing — mostly by male politicians — is the basic reality. Passing laws that outlaw abortions won’t end abortions. They will simply make them less safe, putting more lives at risk. And the posturing totally ignores the deep injustices surrounding reproductive rights, as whatever the law is, rich women will retain the right of choice — even if it requires going to a hospital in another country — while the lives of poor women, already locked out of any federal support for the counseling and choices they need, will be at ever greater risk.

Of course, many of these same politicians pushing these laws supposedly to protect life inside the womb do little to save the lives of those outside the womb, voting to roll back Medicaid, cut aid for women and infant children, slash food stamps and eliminate welfare for impoverished mothers with young children.

Donald Trump revealed his brazen cynicism, tweeting out his exceptions to the Alabama law while pleading with the anti-abortion movement to “stick together and win for Life in 2020.” His concern is re-election not making a moral decision on how best to deal with this agonizing concern.

This is an ugly debate. The extremist laws passed in Alabama and elsewhere won’t stand, but the result inevitably will be to make it more difficult and perilous for poor women to make the agonizing decision about a pregnancy. The posturing will lead to the punishment of poor women for childbearing, putting more women and more fetuses at risk, and leave more infants born into a life without the basic support — health care, food, shelter — needed to have a chance for a healthy life.

I share the concern for life that animates the most sincere opponents of abortion. I also agree that reproductive justice is essential to women. Family planning isn’t a sin; it is a vital necessity for ensuring that the next generation of infants is brought into the world with the love and the care they need. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled essentially that it is the pregnant woman who is best charged with making the decision about pregnancy until the fetus is viable.

I would trust the women agonizing over that choice far more than politicians like Trump or McCarthy, who cynically weigh how to placate their base without alienating the rest of us.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 26, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The U.S.-Iran Imbroglio: Dangerous Lessons To Be Learned
Paul Street
Reflections and Correspondence at the Abyss
John Laforge
Trump’s Ministry of No Information
Paul Edwards
Fool Me Twice
Rob Hager
Warren and Sanders: Compare and Contrast
John Steppling
The Monkey’s Face
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World of Shadows
Jaspal Kaur Sadhu Singh
Correcting a Colonial Injustice: The Return of the Chagos Islands to Its Natives
Binoy Kampmark
Violent Voyeurism: Surveillance, Spyware and Human Rights
Jonah Raskin
Reflections on Abbie Hoffman and Joshua Furst’s Novel, Revolutionaries
Dave Chapman
The Hydroponic Threat to Organic Food
June 25, 2019
Rannie Amiri
Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis
Patrick Cockburn
Trump May Already be in Too Deep to Avoid War With Iran
Paul Tritschler
Hopeful Things
John Feffer
Deep Fakes: Will AI Swing the 2020 Election?
Binoy Kampmark
Bill Clinton in Kosovo
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Japanese Conjuncture
Edward Hunt
Is Mexico Winding Down or Winding up the Drug War?
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump’s Return to Full-Spectrum Dominance
Steve Kelly
Greed and Politics Should Not Drive Forest Policy
Stephen Carpa
Protecting the Great Burn
Colin Todhunter
‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit
Martin Billheimer
The Gothic and the Idea of a ‘Real Elite’
Elliot Sperber
Send ICE to Hanford
June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
George Wuerthner
How Mountain Bikes Threaten Wilderness
Christopher Ketcham
The Journalist as Hemorrhoid
Manuel E. Yepe
Yankee Worship of Bombings and Endless Wars
Mel Gurtov
Iran—Who and Where is The Threat?
Wim Laven
Revisiting Morality in the Age of Dishonesty
Thomas Knapp
Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
Weekend Edition
June 21, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Brett Wilkins
A Brief History of US Concentration Camps
Rob Urie
Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate
Rev. William Alberts
America’s Respectable War Criminals
Paul Street
“So Happy”: The Trump “Boom,” the Nation’s Despair, and the Decline of Joe Biden
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Eric Draitser
The Art of Trade War: Is Trump Winning His Trade War against China?
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Russian Problem
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail