Today could mark the beginning of the end for abortions in much of the United States. This is horrible news for the majority of Americans who support a woman's right to choose.
But the fervent anti-abortion minority are rejoicing in a Texas law going into effect which effectively bans abortions, since the law forbids the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women even know they're pregnant.
Providers said the ban — which relies on private citizens to sue people who help women get forbidden abortions — effectively eliminates the guarantee in Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions that women have a right to end their pregnancies before viability, and that states may not impose undue burdens on that decision.
On a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court has refused to issue an injunction against the Texas law, which is clearly unconstitutional.
Thus it only seems to be a matter of time before states are allowed to return to the dark ages before the Court ruled in favor of a woman's right to choose an abortion.
Those of us old enough to remember what things were like before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision are horrified at the prospect of women either having to travel to a state or country where abortion remains legal -- like here in Oregon -- or engaging in dangerous attempts to end their pregnancy.
In the years leading up to Roe, more than 1 million women each year, facing the crisis of an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy, found it necessary to resort to illegal abortions. The vast majority of these women turned either to dangerous self-induced abortions or to the dark and often forbidding underworld of “back-alley” abortions.
Women who resorted to self-induced abortions typically relied on such methods as throwing themselves down a flight of stairs or ingesting, douching with, or inserting into themselves a chilling variety of chemicals and toxins ranging from bleach to potassium permanganate to turpentine to gunpowder to whiskey. Knitting needles, crochet hooks, scissors, and coat hangers were among the tools commonly used by women who attempted to self-abort. Approximately 30 percent of all illegal abortions in the 1960s were self-induced.
Women who sought abortions from “back-alley” abortionists encountered similar horrors. To find someone to perform an illegal abortion, women often had to rely on tips from elevator operators, taxi cab drivers, salesmen, and the like. Because of the clandestine nature of illegal abortions, the very process of finding someone to perform an abortion was often dangerous and terrifying.
Women who sought “back-alley” abortions were often blindfolded, driven to remote areas, and passed off to people they did not know and could not even see during the entire process. Such abortions were performed not only in secret offices and hotel rooms, but also in bathrooms, in the backseats of cars, and literally in back alleys.
But this is what our American "Taliban" want to inflict on women.
They're not always religious fundamentalists, but the most avid anti-abortion zealots are. Just like the Taliban in Afghanistan, they want to impose their rigid dogmatism on any woman who wants an abortion, even those pregnant because of rape or incest.
An opinion piece in today's Arizona Republic newspaper has the title, "Texas goes Taliban on abortion rights. Is Arizona next?"
I’m puzzled by Republicans who have been clamoring with supposed concern and disgust over the past couple of weeks about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and what that would mean for the people of that country.
Particularly now, since the state of Texas has decided to go Taliban on women when it comes to reproductive rights and the U.S. Supreme Court has chosen not to intervene.
It seems like the Republicans who control the Texas legislature, and the conservatives who now dominate the court, are less inclined to go along with the protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution than by the restrictions imposed by Islam’s Sharia law.
And Arizona is right behind them.
What makes the Texas law especially Taliban'ish is how it relies on citizens to enforce the law, not government. If someone learns of an abortion before six weeks of pregnancy, they get a $10,000 bounty from an abortion provider or anyone else who helps a woman get an abortion.
Individuals who are sued under the ban could be required to pay the person who brought the lawsuit at least $10,000 for each abortion the defendant was involved in. Critics say the law places a “bounty” on the heads of those who assist with abortions.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who chairs the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, urged the Senate to “act legislatively to protect the legal right to abortion for every American, regardless of where they live.”
“If you disagree with the idea that a complete stranger could, legally, demand $10,000 from you just because they disagree with your personal decisions, you should find this Texas anti-abortion ban as much of a nightmare as I do,” she said in a statement.
In Afghanistan the Taliban have whipped women who violate some absurd tenet of Shariah law, like not completely covering their body with a burka. The Texas law allows an equally odious form of legal whipping where anyone can butt into a woman's personal life by filing a suit against those who help a woman obtain an abortion, such as an Uber driver or friend.
The best way to stop Republicans from continuing their all-out war against a woman's right to choose would be for Congress to pass legislation guaranteeing that right. That almost certainly would require doing away with the Senate filibuster. Since this looks unlikely, those who support the right to an abortion are fighting an uphill battle in both Congress and the states controlled by Republicans.
The fight needs to be waged, though. The filibuster could be eliminated, and if enough voters kick Republicans out of office in the next elections, a woman's right to choose could remain in many, if not most, states. Hey, I can dream.