Now Extremists Want to Ban Talking About Their Abortion Bans

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Unfortunately, it’s 1984 again in America.

Not the year. The book. George Orwell’s classic novel tells of a far-right totalitarian clique that uses “newspeak” and “doublethink” to impose their rigid, anti-democratic doctrine on society.

Their regime held power through mind control — they had a “Ministry of Truth” for perverting language and manipulating facts, while their “Thought Police” enforced ideological purity and suppressed dissent.

Thirty-nine years later, here comes a clique of theocratic extremists in our country using Orwellian manipulation in its crusade to take control over every woman’s personal reproductive rights.

Having seized the Supreme Court and practically the entire Republican Party, these present-day autocrats are now demanding that state and national lawmakers enforce the group’s ultimate dictate: A total ban on abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.

To their amazement, however, the great majority of Americans — including many Republican voters — think abortion ought to be generally available, with each woman deciding what’s best for her. Moreover, the idea of Big Brother imposing a federal ban is massively unpopular.

No problem, say today’s Orwellian newspeakers, we’ll just ban the word “ban” from our PR campaigns. Thus their harsh abortion ban has magically morphed linguistically into a “pro-life plan.” There — feel better?

Doubling down on their propaganda ploy, the abortion truth twisters are also plotting to ban reporters from using what one called “the big ban word.” Anti-abortion agents are now barraging news outlets with warnings that any use of that verb will be considered proof of political bias.

Sure enough, rather than risk right-wing fury, some scaredy-cat reporters are already caving in, meekly describing bans as “restrictions on procedures.” How nice — a kinder, gentler tyranny!

To keep up with the 2023 version of Orwell’s Thought Police, follow journalist Jessica Valenti’s diligent tracking of anti-abortion trickery at

James Hightower is an American syndicated columnist, progressive political activist, and author.