In 1985, when I was a junior in college, I wrote a short story about a woman who was executed for getting her daughter an abortion.
The Handmaid’s Tale came out in 1985, but I didn’t read it. I wasn’t even really aware of its existence until I looked back, years later, at the timing.
To be clear, mine wasn’t a fabulous story. It was manipulative, and more than a little purple in its prose. I claim no uniqueness or special foresight by having written it.
Which is the point.
In 1985, we all saw this coming. All of us.
Roe was 12 years old. My generation had come of age being told pregnancy was voluntary, was ours to control. Our mothers hadn’t. Our mothers were the first generation to see this change, and not just around abortion but birth control. Laws changed, but attitudes were slow to follow; my mother was lectured by her doctor when she requested a prescription for birth control as a married woman. She should be welcoming all the children God would bring her, she was told. If she’d approached her doctor for birth control before she married, she’d have received a very different lecture about God’s intent.
So many people recruit God as a co-conspirator. I’m not at all religious, but they can’t possibly all be right.
My mother, who had always wanted babies, who had ended up with 2 under 2 and never regretted it, was clear about her perspective. “I don’t understand,” she’d said, “how you can force someone to do something with their body they don’t want to do.” For her, it had nothing to do with babies or birth control; it was about who got to choose.
There’s a video flying around of Kamala Harris during K*vanaugh’s confirmation hearings. She asks if he knows of any law that regulates a man’s use of his own body. K*vanaugh deflected, as they always do. We knew what he was saying.
We knew back in 1985 what they were saying. We’ve always known. And it’s stunning to see people startled by all this, like they didn’t believe the GOP has really meant it all along.
If there were any logic to the arguments, the next legislation they’d pursue would be mandatory organ donation. After all, if a person must surrender their body to save a pack of replicating cells someone has decided constitutes a whole person, surely they must surrender their body to save someone who’s already been born. These people should be advocating for national DNA databases so medical professionals know who to contact for compatible organs. You should always have a bag packed, in case you get the phone call from the Feds saying “your kidney is needed in Nebraska” and you have to hop a plane or get prosecuted for murder.
That’s the logical extension of this. But it’s not about logic. It has never been about logic.
There’s a Politico article recirculating that’s worth a read. It sounds nuts if you summarize it: the anti-choice movement was built by people who’d noticed they’d lost the school desegregation cause. But if you think of it as a bonfire, it makes more sense: they’d lost the flame that had brought them power, and they needed a new one. The evangelical movement wasn’t all that concerned with Roe, until politicians decided they needed them to be.
Roe was a compromise. Either I have bodily autonomy, or I don’t.
If I don’t? They can take it from anyone.
The anti-trans legislation that’s been flying around this year has had some attention. Not as much as this leaked decision, but some. The roots are the same: we don’t like this and we don’t have a reason but we’re going to use our God as an excuse to take it away from you. Scratch an anti-choicer long enough (which usually isn’t very long) and you get right to “Well she shouldn’t have had sex.” Anti-trans people are, in a way, more honest: they’re binary gender absolutists, they don’t care about medical science, they don’t care about the mental health of children. If someone doesn’t adhere to their stark, inflexible ideas of gender, that someone is the problem, not the inflexibility. You don’t even have to get two or three questions down the track before you get to “but girls aren’t like that.”
Is it unprofessional, overly emotional, undermining my argument if I say Fuck You to all the people who think like that?
I’ve seen the usual wishy-washy mainstream media pushing out articles about how now the GOP is in the uncomfortable position of having to figure out how to care for all these unwanted children that’ll now be born, and what a strain it’s going to be on the party. HAHAHAHA no. Their stance on child care and care during pregnancy and childbirth isn’t going to change.
I really think a lot of them think this will simply end unwanted pregnancy, that people who can get pregnant will just stop having sex, at least in contexts the GOP deems unacceptable. The problem, for them, has never been unwanted pregnancy; it’s been human sexuality, and their own feelings of helplessness around it. To adopt some gender-binary terminology for a moment: Women tempt men to sin, and that needs to stop, and the only way to make that stop is to punish women for tempting. Because we can’t expect men to exercise self-control, because God. Or something.
A lot of GOPers are bothered by their own sexual impulses, and they desperately want someone else to make them stop.
There will be consequences to this. They will be ugly. People will die.
I can’t see the future, and mostly I’m glad of that. I do try to remind myself, though, that so many events in history did not end up playing out as people thought they would. I remember that in every war, as it was being fought, the victors didn’t know they’d be victorious. There is great darkness right now, make no mistake. I may not live to see the light again, but I do believe it’s out there, and I’ll do what I can to hasten its return.
Rage is appropriate. Fear is understandable. Exhaustion is expected. But stopping is not an option.