Dhe decision seems to have been made, America’s Supreme Court wants to admit a “error” in June: that it derived from the 1973 constitution a right for women to terminate pregnancies as long as the baby would not be viable outside the womb. There is no longer a uniform national regulation. In just a few weeks, whether and when an American woman can have an abortion will depend on where she lives – and how much money she has.
In around half of the states, abortion doctors will no longer be allowed to work or will hardly be able to do so anymore. An outbidding competition among Republicans means that in many places raped girls are also forced to carry their children. Even exceptions for mothers whose survival is at risk are contested by culture fighters in the name of protecting life.
There is also an outbidding competition on the left. Democrats are using the political momentum to make abortion cheaper in their states. Some are planning travel grants for pregnant women from conservative countries. So Republicans want to take action against “abortion tourism” by criminalizing assisted abortion as well. Woe to the Missouri father who drives his daughter to Chicago to see the doctor!
Donald Trump’s pact with the Christian right
Woe to the destitute women, the insecure migrants without a residence permit, the pregnant women who can’t confide in anyone. Despite grants, many won’t be able to make a trip to one of the “safe havens” as Democratic governors are now labeling their states. Almost inevitably, an underground network of “doctors” will emerge who will perform illegal abortions, with all the dangers to the health of the mother.
This is the fruit of the pact the “Christian Right” lobbyists made with Donald Trump: despite his lifestyle that flouted their values, they helped him into the White House; he appointed the judges who wrote them down for him; they organized the celebration for him. But this hides the fact that for decades around three-fifths of Americans have been opposed to challenging the fundamental “Roe versus Wade” ruling. Even among Republican supporters, this opinion prevails – hardly because they consider the legal construction devised almost fifty years ago to be so wise, but because it is so difficult to give a better answer to the dilemma between women’s right to self-determination and the protection of unborn life.
But America’s electoral system gives radical activists from both parties disproportionate influence. For the abortion opponents, it also pays off that they changed their rhetoric decades ago: they hardly lectured about sexual abstinence by women or the limits of their power to dispose of their bodies, but only about the rights of unborn children. By posing as protectors of innocent babies from a “Holocaust” or “modern slavery,” they gave themselves the guise of a civil rights movement. This also made them attractive to young (white) conservatives.
Many Americans are religious. Your commitment to protecting life should be taken seriously. But that’s difficult when the political representatives of this large minority not only ignore the conflict with women’s right to self-determination, but also interpret life protection so selectively. The states that ban abortion are mostly those that encourage their citizens to use their guns, impose the death penalty, or deny drug-addicted petty criminals therapy. Years ago, one of the last moderate Republicans of stature demanded that one should not only protect human lives “that have not yet disappointed us” because they are still in the womb. The appeal died down.
If abortion is murder – is the mother the murderer?
Rather, in Louisiana’s legislature, abortion was now being discussed as murder. Death penalty for the doctor? Or the mother? The proponents declared themselves consistent, with some justification, but were disciplined by leaders of their own movement. That’s what happened to Trump when he talked about “kind of punishing” women for having abortions in 2016. This sort of circumvents the tactical requirement: It’s about babies, not mothers!
Now the political game is becoming existentially serious, also for Republican voters or their daughters. At best, this opens the door for the overdue, deliberative debate about whether the state knows better than the mother what can happen to an embryo. First, however, America will become a patchwork quilt where the protection of unborn life and women’s rights depend on political tactics.
#Kulturkampf #abortion #Playing #life