Gee It’s Nice Your State is Blue, the War on Abortion’s Still Coming for You

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Let’s have a look at the latest development in the Christian fascist Amerikaner campaign to re-impose the full pre-Roe v.Wade female bondage of forced motherhood, paying special attention to the sickening “Weimar” role of the Democratic Party and its allied “choice” organizations/NGOs.

Recall how the dismal Dems and their friends in Indivisible, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood,  and countless mainstream liberals and supposedly left “repro” groups across the country, justified their abject failures to:

(a)  heed Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights’ (RU4AR’s) call for massive street actions to “shut shit down” before and after the well-telegraphed June 24, 2022 Dobbs v Jackson decision, in which the Christian fascist Trump-made Supreme Court ended women’s half-century constitutional right to an abortion.

(b)  join RU4AR in demanding that Biden follow the Dobbs decision by passing executive orders proclaiming the women-enslaving war on abortion a public health emergency and mandating the safe and legal provision of abortion services on federal lands across the entire nation, including the revanchist patriarchal red states.

The Dems and the choice establishment made four key claims in defense of this pathetic surrender:

+1. They would still carry the legal and political fight forward at the level of individual states, to which Dobbs sent abortion policy. “Okay, we’ve lost at the federal level, but we can win great gains at the state level.”

+2. The blue non-prohibition states would be able to rescue the red prohibition states by ramping up abortion funds and services, including bringing abortion seekers to the “sanctuary” states.

+3. The Democrats would capitalize on voter backlash against the Dobbs decision in the 2022 mid-term elections, creating a context in which they could codify the right to an abortion as national law.  Biden promised to sign such a law if the midterm elections went his “Roevember” way.

+4. “They can’t take away home medical abortion via the abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol. Such abortions account for half of the procedures in the US.  We’ve got the pills!”

Well, to ask Dr. Phil’s question, “how’s all that working for us” – that is, for the right to an abortion, which continues to be supported by a super-majority of the US population as before Dobbs?

Yes, there have been some legal and political victories in the states.  The Democrats contained some of the usual mid-term electoral damage by exploiting Dobbs to their advantage.  And yes, blue state service-providers and drug companies have been ramping up their capacity to handle abortion-seekers in and from prohibition states. But no, the overall context is a disaster for women, girls, and transgender folks struggling with unwanted pregnancies. Eleven states now ban abortion in all or nearly all cases: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Nine states have passed strict abortion laws that are under legal challenge and in judicial limbo: Arizona, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, North Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Two states have passed pre-viability bans: Florida (15 weeks)  and Georgia (6 weeks).

“For over six months,”  Jessica Valenti writes:

“Americans have been suffering under abortion bans that they didn’t vote for and don’t want. Women left bleeding for days. Cancer patients and raped children denied care. Burst ectopic pregnancies…. [There are widespread] conservative efforts to ban abortion medication …twenty Attorneys General [have] threatened retail pharmacies to keep [abortion] medication out of their states, even though they’re standard treatment for miscarriages…. doctors [are being] forced to choose between giving their patients adequate care or prison time….pregnant women [are being] kept in an Alabama jail in order to ‘protect’ their fetuses.”

Pro-choice Democrats can boast all they want about how they (barely) kept the US Senate and averted a total anti-abortion “red wave” in the US House and the states, but the cold fact is that the arch-patriarchal Republic-fascists took back control of the lower body of Congress.  But even if the Democrats had somehow kept the House, Biden’s pledge to sign a policy “codifying Roe as national law” was never anything but cynical electoral posturing.  Such a law would require 60 votes in the absurdly filibusted and malapportioned US Senate, where the nation’s most reactionary and patriarchal states are preposterously over-represented by the granting of  two  Senators to each state regardless of population size.

Biden doesn’t really give all that much of a f*ck about abortion rights.  If he did, he would have issued the aforementioned executive orders. And he would have given more than thirty seconds – half a minute! – to the abortion issue in his State of the Union Address one month ago.

The 2024 elections look very good for Republifascists taking back the Senate since far more Democratic incumbents than Republikan ones are up for re-election.  And the 2024 Republi-fascist candidate, likely either the malignant putschist Trump or the arguably more dangerous Christian fascist Ron DeSantis, will have an at least coin-flip chance of defeating the unpopular octogenarian Biden with or without the help of the right-tilted Electoral College and likely constitutional shenanigans from the party or Christian white nationalist hate. Chances are decent that we’ll see a national abortion ban passed through the Senate (whose Republican majority would suspend the filibuster for such a glorious victory) and signed by a President Trump or DeSantis in 2025 and validated by the lifetime appointed High Handmaid Court in 2026.

It’s called Minority Rule, brought to you by the “killing confines” (the Revolutionary Communist Party’s excellent phrase) of bourgeois democracy, Amerikaner-style. So F’ng what if two-thirds-plus of the US populace backs women’s right to an abortion?!  How about that wonderful US “democracy” that Biden loves to boast about to induce the US populace to stay off the streets and to buttress his reckless advance of an imperialist proxy war in Ukraine, and grease the skids to further wars in Asia?

Speaking of Minority Rule and national  abortion surrender justification #4 (above) – “they can’t take our abortion pills” –  the medication abortion  path may not be working out very well either. Can’t take the pills? The Hell they can’t! Turns out the Republifascist women-haters with a far right organization called the Alliance Defending Freedom (its lead attorney is Erin Morrow Hawley, wife of Republi-fascist US Sen. Josh Hawley) went shopping for a federal district judge – one of  more than 670 district judges nationwide – to issue a decision banning mifepristone across the whole country. They found him – a Trump-appointed-for-life fanatically right-wing jurist in – where else? –  Texas. As RU4AR co-founder Sunsara Taylor writes:

“Right now, a federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, is poised to determine whether or not to ban mifepristone, one of the most common drugs used in medication abortion, all across this country…. The case Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk is considering was brought by a bunch of Dark Ages, anti-abortion theocrats who hope to revoke the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone. If Kacsmaryk does revoke the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, this could immediately ban doctors and abortion providers from providing the most common means of abortion to women everywhere in this country. And there is the profound danger that such a decision would be upheld by the fascists who sit on the judiciary all the way up to the Supreme Court. … In addition to immediately disrupting the ability of women all over the country to gain access to the abortions they need and want, such a decision would be a further escalation in the fascist assault on women’s fundamental right to decide for themselves when and whether to have a child. Indeed, that such a lawsuit has been brought in the first place is a further indication that the Christian fascist movement that is driving the assault on abortion rights will not stop until abortion—and even birth control—is completely eradicated. Kacsmaryk set February 24, 2023, as the deadline for all arguments to be filed in this case and a decision could come any time after that.”

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern recently raised the alarm on the horrible impact this coming decision could have:

“Given that a majority of [abortion] patients use abortion pills, this move would overwhelm providers, creating monthslong waitlists for abortion procedures even in deep-blue states. The result would be an unprecedented backup as people sought to get procedures instead, and likely thousands of patients—in states like New York or California or really anywhere—would be unable to obtain an abortion in time, even if state law protects their right to do so.”

I will be very surprised if Kacsmaryk doesn’t rule on the side of the Dark Ages.  As Lithwick and Stern write:

“The [Alliance Defending Freedom] only filed [in Amarillo] because they were guaranteed to draw a single judge: Kacsmaryk…Before donning his robe, Kacsmaryk served as deputy general counsel at the far-right First Liberty Institute, where he fought LGBTQ equality, abortion, and contraception. (He once said that being transgender is a “delusion” and scorned “secular libertines” who sacrifice children to their “erotic desires.”) Since his confirmation, he has gained a reputation as perhaps the most lawless jurist in the country. If that sounds like an overstatement—and to be sure, the competition is stiff—consider just a portion of his record: In less than three years, Kacsmaryk has seized control over border policy, repeatedly defied the Supreme Court’s decision protecting LGBTQ employees, and restricted minors’ access to birth control. It was probably inevitable that anti-abortion crusaders would shop their case to him.”

A previously non-Christian fascist Supreme Court would quickly shut down the “rogue” Amarillo judge’s coming decision to ban mifepristone nationwide.  Not the current High Handmaid Court brought to us by Trump, Mitch McConnell and their Christian white nationalist party of patriarchal neofascism.

Absurdly and indeed libelously attacked and red-baited by “left” “repro” groups and liberal-left journalists last summer, RU4AR was right all along: the Christian fascist anti-abortion movement is not remotely satisfied with the “back to the states” Dobbs rulings. The ever more mainstreamed far right wants to cripple and kill abortion rights and impose female bondage nationwide. It is using the nation’s right-tilted Minority Rule juridical and political structure to carry this project out. It will take a great Latin American- and (now we must say) Iranian-style feminist and nationwide social movement beneath and beyond the killing confines of normal bourgeois-“democratic” politics to beat back this vicious patriarchal attack.

Please look here to find and/or host a rally before and after the Amarillo ruling.  And then get ready to bring your anger and passion to large scale rallies and marches on International Women’s Day on March 8th.

A longer version of this essay appeared on The Paul Street Report last week. 

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).