Radical Right Doubling Down On Failed Big Government Anti-Choice Laws
The GOP has long contended that it is the party of so-called limited government. This claim is ridiculous in light of the GOP’s actual longtime and consistent support for big government. Today’s radical right believes in strictly regulating such things as voting and women’s health care choices. On the other hand, the GOP’s so-called small government philosophy only applies to the owners of weapons of war and the wealthy. It is truly an inconsistent and bizarre set of beliefs.
The GOP has recently passed some really big government anti-choice laws in Alabama, Georgia and Missouri. The Alabama anti-choice law bans virtually all abortions and doesn’t even make an exception for rape or incest. The Alabama law is so radical that even Donald Trump and many other prominent Republicans are running away from it.
Missouri and Georgia passed so-called “heartbeat” laws that would ban abortion as early as 6 or 8 weeks into the pregnancy. These so-called heartbeat laws could prohibit abortion before many women know they are pregnant and constitute a near-total ban on the procedure. Three right wing state senators aligned with Governor Pete Ricketts have indicated that they will introduce similar legislation in next year’s legislative session. The billionaire governor would undoubtedly sign such a measure into law if it should pass since he has tweeted his support for the reactionary Alabama and Georgia laws.
One of the many problems with the radical right’s big government, anti-choice laws is that they have been attempted — and failed — in many other countries. Between 1966–89, the Communist regime in Romania attempted to ban abortion. The results were disastrous. Many Romanian women had no choice but to seek out so-called back alley abortions. It has been conservatively estimated that approximately 10,000 women died as a result of unsafe abortions. As a matter of fact, maternal mortality doubled between 1966 and 1989.
Another unintended consequence of Romania’s failed abortion ban was that hundreds of thousands of children were turned over to state orphanages with horrific conditions. According to a Foreign Policy Article dated May 16, 2019: “ When communism collapsed in Romania in 1989, an estimated 170,000 children were found warehoused in filthy orphanages. Having previously been hidden from the world, images emerged of stick-thin children, many of whom had been beaten and abused. Some were left shackled to metal bed frames.”
A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute confirmed that the Romanian experience was no outlier. According to this study: “Countries with the most restrictive abortion laws also have the highest rates of abortion. Easier access to birth control drives down abortion rates, the report also finds.” This study found that the highest abortion rates are found in Latin America and the Caribbean — which have some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.
It’s obvious that the radical right’s plan to reduce abortion has been attempted many times outside of the U.S. and has proven to be a failure. Perhaps it would be better if we attempted a different approach such as providing reality based sex education and better access to birth control. As State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh recently said: “If we really truly care about reducing abortion in the state, we need to do more investment in preventative, not restrictive. And I don’t hear that conversation happening in this Legislature, or any Legislature. Restricting abortions isn’t the way to reduce them, because women who are desperate are still going to get them, and it’s just not going to be safe.”
Senator Cavanaugh’s alternative has been vindicated by a 2012 study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. This report found the most effective way to reduce the abortion rate is to provide women with free birth control. According to this report: “When more than 9,000 women ages 14 to 45 in the St. Louis area were given no-cost contraception for three years, abortion rates dropped from two-thirds to three-quarters lower than the national rate.”
What is disturbing about this wave of extreme anti-choice laws is that women and progressives are re-fighting old battles they thought they had won in the 1960s and 1970s. We must never forget that no victory over the radical right is ever final in nature. They never give up and they don’t care about public opinion. As Coretta Scott King said: “Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it in every generation.” Now let’s go out and earn it again!