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Defend my what??

I heard the details of the Texas Abortion law from lawyer Christopher Melcher on Popcorned Planet on YouTube yesterday. I made a comment to the effect that it was to be expected once the Republicans put two more conservative justices on the Supreme Court that abortion would be sharply curtailed. We should now expect more states to follow like Missouri, Florida, and Utah but not Pennsylvania. In any state where the court, legislature and governor are all Republican, we should see more of these laws. In states where there is divided government, like PA, the governor is very unlikely to sign such bills into law. Now it is up to Texans to decide if this law is really going to work for them. We have now gone back to the Bonnie Jo, Go Home days where young women will need to travel to another state to get an abortion. That’s not easy in Texas where the nearest clinic may be in New Mexico 4 hours away.

Some idiot replied to my comment with “Defend your argument”. I didn’t take that bait. This is not a theoretical discussion about the existence of God. It’s definitely falsifiable. We can collect evidence.

It just occurred to me that an awful lot of people took their anti-abortion stance because being contrary didn’t have a down side. They could speculate and argue until the spittle flew from their mouths and there was a kind of brotherhood of rebellious defiance. But they didn’t think it was ever going to happen. There weren’t going to be any real world consequences. It was all win-win for anyone who was not a pro-choice commie liberal militant lesbian who was going to force gay marriage abortions down our throats. I’d love to piss on Rush Limbaugh’s grave right now if I could find it.

I can guarantee that there were thousands of teenagers who woke up yesterday absolutely panic stricken in Texas. A lot of them are worrying for nothing but some are freaking out right now, counting days, desperately looking to friends to give them money or help them get to New Mexico or looking up “abortion pill” online. There will be some who have already run out of time, can’t get away from work, or scheduled their 10 week abortion for the weekend and now have to figure out how to get it done. Some of them will do whatever they can. The cases of poisoning by ivermectin for Covid will be nothing compared to what is about to happen.

I’ve heard a lot about the consequences for the people who aid women to get an abortion in Texas. It’s going to be nasty and brutal and there doesn’t seem to be any exception for rape, incest, life or health of the mother, or serious fetal defects. This law is completely devoid of mercy of any kind and full of retribution from busy bodies and religious nutcases.

Every woman in Texas is Catholic now. Not one of them has freedom to practice her own religion. There will be shaming because it will be seen as cold, unmaternal and irresponsible to give up a child for adoption. You shall reap what you have sown. There won’t be any way to escape scrutiny. If you’re 16 and pregnant and you live in a fundamentalist house where you will be forced to accept lifelong parenthood for a child you didn’t want, can’t afford and will seriously affect your ability to provide for yourself in the future, this is not just an argument. It’s reality.

If I were a young woman in Texas, my sex life just came to an abrupt end. Sure there is birth control. But we know that it fails. We can get Plan B but thanks to Barack Obama, minors will still need to consult a parent in the Bible Belt. The abortion pill is available but it will not be easy to get one. Every sexual interaction from now on will come with some risk. And the consequences of that risk will only fall on one partner. Texas may become a very chilly place.

This is what it was like before Roe when young women were expected to be mothers or whores. The only way out was to travel somewhere to get an abortion, sometime legal, sometimes not. Sometimes women lost their fertility permanently or ended up dead. There will be a whole class of well to do people who can’t have children who will think adoption is a perfect solution. But when we romanticize motherhood, there will be a social price to pay for women who give up their children.

These are not theoretical concepts. This is actually going to happen and we know this because this is what happened before.

But the abortion debate has hurt women who never had to make that choice and it has been doing it for as long as my entire adulthood. I came of age in a country where Roe was the law of the land but it only partially protected me. I’ve never had an abortion but there has been a sword hanging over my head my entire life. Just talking about abortion day after day, month after month, year after year was like dealing with a threat. The threat was “we men and fundamentalist religious persons have the power to make you an unequal person in a way that will never affect the men in this country.” That’s been out there and let me tell you, there isn’t a woman in this country who hasn’t felt the affects of that threat.

It has affected the way we parent and when we have or do not have children. It has affected when we put our kids in daycare or if we have maternity leave. It has affected our incomes and employability. Because at any moment, we could get that fifth Supreme Court justice who would make a pregnant woman a burden to her employer or her research group or her family.

Now that I think of it, why would ANY woman of childbearing age go to Texas to do research? If I were the head of a lab, I’d be extremely concerned by a woman working with teratogens or suspected teratogens or substances of unknown teratogenicity. If my grad student unintentionally ends up pregnant, I could be held responsible for any harm to her unborn child. Or she might not be aware she’s pregnant until it’s too late to do anything about it. I’d think twice about hiring female grad students because in order to protect them, I’m going to have to exclude them from certain kinds of lab work. How would that be useful to my research? The contrarians never have to think about these things but any female scientist who has been excluded from working in the lab once she’s found out that she’s pregnant will know exactly what I’m talking about. That may permanently affect what kind of research a female scientist will be able to do. Texas is leading the way in excluding some of our most talented women from the labs. No Jennifer Doudna will be coming from Texas universities.

The sword of Roe rescinded has kept wages artificially low, it has made fewer of us managers, it has affected our creativity. Just recently I noticed that all of the YouTube channels I subscribe to that feature young, creative women having the time of their lives doing risky entrepreneurial things are Canadian. It’s hard to find an American female YouTuber who isn’t married with kids or working with her husband who is the editor who doesn’t throw in homeschooling and religiosity as the defining aspects of their personalities. Oh, I’m sure the happy go lucky and plucky creative American women are out there in YouTube land but it’s the Canadians and Swedes and Austrians and global digital nomads that keep showing up. American women who are not in the entertainment industry are matronly, stolid, pious, modest and boring by comparison. Or they’re cottagecore Dianas, virginal and in touch with nature and faeries. We are very madonna or whore in this country.

That is the result of decades of religious voices defining what is acceptable and what is not. It’s motherhood above all. But it doesn’t benefit any woman who doesn’t want to be a mother or doesn’t want to be a mother now or wants to excel in her career or doesn’t want to be harassed just because the culture has been shaped by the abortion debate to see women as not quite professional or at least hobbled by the prospect of that sword coming down on her at any moment by some former altar boy sitting on the Supreme Court.

I don’t need to defend an argument. We are living it.