Move on Roe v Wade will see a dystopian society



When news of the US Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v Wade was leaked, millions of Americans were caught off-guard, despite six of the court’s nine judges considered conservative.

Up to 69% of Americans are against overturning the legislation, which next year will be 50 years in existence. Republicans have been working towards this decision for decades.

I did see this coming. From back when the Republican Party refused to let Barack Obama appoint a Supreme Court judge, then convinced the conservative Anthony Kennedy to retire early, changed the rules and allowed Donald Trump to appoint the ultra-conservative Amy Coney Barrett in the last weeks of his tenure ,it was a given that a judgment striking down Roe v Wade was inevitable.

The leak of the decision shows how entrenched the anti-abortion wing of the court is.

Two days after the leak, the Senate again failed to advance abortion rights legislation, in a symbolic effort that Democrats had mounted in response to the Supreme Court’s draft. In a 51-49 vote, the Senate rejected the legislation, with Democrat Joe Manchin, and all Republicans, voting no.

You don’t need me to tell you the obvious — that, 50 years on from Roe v Wade, pr0-choice is still a massively divisive issue, with the court’s draft opinion now upping the stakes.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder says the decision will have a “seismic effect” on America. No two of the 50 US states have similar laws on abortion; some allow termination up to only six weeks, others 15 weeks, while some allow only in cases of proven rape and incest. Texas mooted the other day that to assist someone to cross the state line to avail of a more ‘lenient’ abortion law could become a capital offence. An overturn of Roe v Wade would immediately ban abortion in 26 states.

The Supreme Court’s impending action sets back women’s rights, their rights over their own bodies, by that 50 years since Roe v Wade and will see a growing somewhat dystopian society, mirroring Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Canadian Atwood (83) has often wondered if her novel, of a fictional theocracy in which enslaved women are forced to bear children, was too far-fetched. Last week, she said: “Theocratic dictatorships do not lie only in the past. What is to prevent the US from becoming one?” It makes our squabble here over the proposed National Maternity Hospital and a few words in a draft proposal just that — a squabble.

The forthcoming US ruling has implications not just for a woman’s right to choose — nor, indeed, that it potentially places women’s health in danger — but has equally frightening implications for many pieces of current US legislation. Laws on family planning, on sexual consent, on same-sex marriage and the ongoing agenda of the LBGT movement and the issues of transgender.

Any proposals for the Supreme Court to overturn these laws, to look at overturning, say, same-sex marriage — and it’s a very tangible likelihood — will become more draconian as one goes deeper into the Red, the Republican, states. The pitched battles witnessed down the decades since Roe v Wade — 11 pro-choice people murdered in the last 20-plus years, the burning down of clinics, the horrible depiction of ‘murdered foetuses’ — are set to reach that “seismic effect” that former AG Eric Holder speaks of. And see an America more divided than at any other time in my lifetime. Family member pitted against family member.

Of course it is all part of a bigger picture — the growth of the ultra-Right the last number of decades.

Book banning has reached “unprecedented heights” in America, most notable in the states of Pennsylvania and Florida in recent days. Books on all manner of subjects — not least the issues of transgender, racism and Woke — removed from schools and libraries. Cue, Ireland decades ago. And, with two granddaughters in America, this concerns me greatly.

Such measures are all part of the Make American Great Again (MAGA) movement’s growing commitment to the political Right. That said, political activism is important because it suggests commitment to political engagement.

And such engagement is always a good thing, whatever side of the fence you reside.

Meanwhile, multi mass shootings across four states in just days with at least 17 dead and many critically injured. Last year 703 died from such in the US, with 2,842 injured and traumatised. Facilitated by lax gun laws, largely supported by the Right.

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