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    • Happy Thanksgiving
      Be happy and be well. Please be careful about Covid. Viral load matters for infection, spending hours in a house with people is a great way to get infected. Feel free to use comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. I’m doing my annual fundraiser. If you like my writing and can afford to, […]
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Trump untied the bigots’ tongues, Gisele Fetterman got a mouthful

You may have already heard about this but if this hasn’t hit your news feed yet, let me tell you what happened to Gisele Fetterman, our lieutenant governor’s wife.

First, Gisele is a role model. She lives her values. Her family lives in a former used car dealership building that was converted to a home in Braddock, PA, about 7 miles from where I live. She was born in Brazil and came to the US as a child. After she got her immigration status straightened out she studied nutrition and married the mayor of Braddock, now our Lieutenant Governor, John Fetterman.

Gisele started a Free Store for people in need of work clothes. She also started a food rescue program that collects and uses good food that stores and restaurants might have otherwise thrown away. So, she’s the real deal. Oh, she’s also adorable and has three kids.

Anyway, she went to a local Aldi’s yesterday to pick up some fruit when a woman started harassing her. The woman was persistent and followed her out to the parking lot where Gisele caught this on video:

I can remember a time when doing this was unthinkable. Saying these words to anyone was unforgivable. But here it is. Trump has given these people permission to act on their basest instincts.

Since the episode happened yesterday, there has been an outpouring of support for Gisele. The governor has weighed in and John Fetterman, 6’8”, tattooed and bald, has been able to speak to the woman who unleashed her hatred.

Meanwhile, Gisele is shaken but I hope it isn’t too long before she gets back out there, knowing we have her back. And never leaves home without her security detail again until we vote Trump out and push the MAGA genie back into the bottle.

We’ve run the Amy Coney Barrett experiment already. It was called Romania.

Back in the 80’s, living while female in Romania was pretty awful. Nicolai Ceausescu promised Romanian women a fabulous life of having it all with plenty of good work and daycare and maternity leave as long as they kept having babies.

The ideal Romanian woman at the time would have been Amy Coney Barrett. Well educated, having a great career and lots of children. Oh sure you could have all of the independence of a working woman as long as you saw yourself as a mother first. That was your first priority.

So, to turn women’s heads towards motherhood, the Romanian government at first severely limited access to abortion. Then they cut off access to abortion completely and criminalized it. It also cut off access to birth control. Single women without children were penalized with higher taxes. All women of childbearing age were subject to compulsory gynecological exams to check their fertility. The intent was to increase the birth rate and encourage motherhood.

That worked splendidly. The number of births increased dramatically. What didn’t materialize was all of the other government assistance and programs that were promised. And as the economy did not improve, many families were strapped with more children than they could provide for. That lead to an explosion of children in orphanages.

The difference between the US and Romania is that here, there is no silly talk of any paid maternity leave, National daycare policies or mentoring women in the workplace so they become the persons they were meant to be. We’ll have none of that.

But what we will have is an ok from the Supreme Court to chip away at reproductive rights for women at an even faster pace. The states will put even more barriers to access in place with Barrett’s approval. Will it lead to more and better motherhood? That’s doubtful. But it will definitely lead to more unwanted children.

Oh, I guess poor women will just become bearers of other people’s children instead of giving the little beasties to orphanages. The Amy Coney Barretts of the world won’t have to go to third world countries to acquire extra kids. But it’s difficult to argue that restrictions on reproductive choice will improve the maternal instincts of anyone who is subjected to the new state laws.

In Romania, the abortion law was overturned in 1990. Over the last 30 years, the number of abortions has decreased dramatically there. The birthrate has declined. But maybe that’s a function of the economy and state programs to support families with children.

Nevertheless, Romanians have no intention of returning to the forced motherhood days:

Nelson said that Romania offers a cautionary tale of what happens when a state tries to control reproductive rights. The new Alabama law raises questions about what kind of support the state would provide if someone doesn’t have the option of ending a pregnancy when the fetus is found to have profound birth defects. 

“Does the state have the bandwidth to take care of those kids and support the families?” he said in an interview. 

When communism collapsed in Romania in December 1989, one of the first acts of the transitional government was to overturn the ban on abortion. Romania remains a highly conservative country, and in recent years there have been renewed calls to outlaw abortion, spearheaded by the influential Orthodox Church and other religious groups. 

Bucur, the author of Birth of Democratic Citizenship: Women and Power in Modern Romania, is skeptical that the new movement will gain any political momentum.

“I think the real, raw firsthand memory is still too present in still too many voters. I don’t think there’s any intelligent politicians who would make it happen,” she said.

Well, there are plenty of unintelligent politicians in this country that have used the reproductive rights of women as their stepping stone to power. They’ve done it without much thought in order to out-extreme their competition in primaries in highly gerrymandered districts.

But the experiment has been run in Romania and El Salvador. We know what the data shows. There’s no excuse for going through with another irresponsible experiment unless the abortion issue is cover for some other policies the zealous evangelical base wouldn’t like at all.

Either way, the nomination and unavoidable confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is going to happen. And some evangelicals are finally realizing that maybe they should be careful what they wished for as this recent opinion piece in WaPo shows.

It took Trump and the Republicans’ insatiable lust for power to finally wake them up. But as for abortion restrictions themselves, they can’t pretend they didn’t know what the outcome of all their idealizing of motherhood and enforced morality would be. The example happened in modern times and it was horrific.