Woe vs Rage

The 24th of the month is proving an ominous date in 2022, first with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and now with the Trump-packed Supreme Court overturning almost fifty years of constitutionally protected nationwide access to abortion in America last Friday.

The news caused widespread dismay and an outpouring of grief and anger on the left, while some members of the Christian right gloated about once again being able to tell everyone else what to do.

Their “pro-life” victory will lead to death and misery for countless Americans. Death of women in childbirth, from the complications of illegal abortions, from untreated ectopic pregnancies, from cancer treatments being withheld to protect an embryo or fetus, from murder or by suicide. Death of unwanted newborn infants from neglect or infanticide. Misery for people forced into parenthood against their will, or forced to give newborns up for adoption, and for the children themselves, who will place further strain on social services and contribute to increased crime rates. Misery for abandoned children forced into orphanages. Misery for siblings whose lives are affected by the stresses on families of unwanted further children. Misery for people seeking IVF treatments that didn’t even exist when Roe was first handed down. Negative implications beyond the experience of most Americans alive today, all supposedly to protect unborn “persons” that many anti-abortionists don’t actually, deep down, believe to be people, or they would no more contemplate hypocritically seeking abortions for themselves or their family members than carrying out a hit for them. All of which points instead to an agenda of restricting the lives and voices of women and girls and fighting a racist rearguard action against the slow erosion of America’s white majority.

All of this has been discussed for years, including over recent weeks since the court’s draft decision was leaked. What matters now is what can be done about it, with fearless politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez up against lacklustre senior Democrats who show every sign of letting Republicans do their worst. Even more concerning than the decision itself is that it’s only one of a slew of decisions from the Supreme Court that are undoing half a century of social progress. The Court has recently overturned restrictions on carrying guns in public, the ability to sue federal agents (including police) who violate people’s rights, and a ban on prayer in public schools. And worse is to come: it’s entirely possible it will soon declare in a case involving the Environmental Protection Agency that Congress lacks the power to delegate authority to federal agencies to implement policy, crippling the federal government and social security and setting the United States of America itself on the road to dissolution.

Not that those of us beyond the US have cause for complacency. In the UK, one hundred Westminster MPs voted in 2019 to keep abortion illegal in Northern Ireland, including many familiar names from the Tory front bench. Even if the threat of a nationwide ban isn’t as imminent here, thanks to this news abortion is once again a talking point in Parliament—yet another front in the Conservative culture wars intended to distract us all from their own long-term project to dismantle our rights and freedoms. Although when the Tories next feel bold enough to bring back another toxic relic of the 1960s (having already brought back a swathe of them via Brexit), it won’t be a ban on abortion—it’ll be capital punishment.

29 June 2022 · Politics