claiming to be against abortion often rely on being able to access
the procedure when they need it—a common conservative approach
to social needs.
Supreme Court’s recent decision
to overturn Roe
was predictable even as it was shocking. Right-wing forces have spent
painstakingly on multiple fronts in plain sight to ensure that the
right to an abortion would no longer be guaranteed, and they have
won. Two of the three Supreme Court Justices, Brett Kavanaugh and
Neil Gorsuch, who were appointed by former President Donald Trump,
of lying about their positions on abortion. A third, Justice Clarence
to same-sex marriage and the right to contraception as part of his
undoing of Roe, hinting at the right wing’s future
Contrary to the idea that men have foisted the
abortion ban on women, in fact, the ban is a patriarchal attack by
women—against the rest of us.
So many forces had to
align in order to ensure that women (and anybody with a uterus) will
be forced into taking a pregnancy to term, that one wonders how—in
light of other catastrophic emergencies like climate change and gun
violence—could abortions be considered dangerous enough to ban?
Are we not toying with death enough in the United States that we have
to add to the ongoing tally of preventable deaths, the casualties
that will result from botched abortions?
The answer may
lie with a general attitude that forms the basis of most right-wing
attacks: that the denial of rights will only affect someone else.
Conservatives have perfected the art of outsourcing empathy. When
others suffer, they must surely deserve it. And, when conservatives
are personally impacted, they are the exception to the rule.
abound of conservative women who picket abortion clinics, quietly
coming in through the back door to get their own abortions taken care
of. One abortion
the Daily Beast, “All of us who do abortions see patients quite
regularly who tell us, ‘I’m not pro-choice, but I just
can’t continue this pregnancy.’” She added, “These
are not people who turn anti-choice after having an abortion, but who
simply access this essential service when they need it in spite of
their personal beliefs about abortion in general.”
results of a survey
of women who had abortions, which was commissioned by an
anti-abortion Christian fundamentalist group called Care Net are
instructive. Seventy percent of the 1,038 women surveyed claimed a
belief in Christianity and 43 percent attended church monthly.
Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of them worried that fellow
churchgoers would negatively judge a single woman for being pregnant
and only 7 percent openly discussed their decision to get an
In other words, those claiming to be against
abortion for everyone else, seek it out quietly when they need one.
It’s a classic case of, “do as I say, not as I do.”
sort of logic of selfishness informs most conservative attacks on the
needs of human beings and is based on an enduring belief that they
are the exception to every rule.
Take gun violence. Those
supporting the complete and easy availability of weapons of mass
violence have no problem abiding by safety
laws that protect the powerful.
Armed members of the public are allowed nowhere near Supreme Court
justices, members of Congress, or current and former presidents. Guns
are also prohibited
at National Rifle Association conventions
when current or former presidents speak. The rationale is that when
certain people’s safety is at stake, it’s okay to
prohibit guns. The rest of us—even children and the
elderly—have to risk living among armed and dangerous
Take government welfare programs. Conservatives
love to rail against aid to vulnerable populations. Republican
lawmakers have made it their mission to slash
what they have dubbed as “entitlement” programs for
years. But it’s their
voters who often rely most
heavily on food stamps
and other benefits. In fact, white Americans, who are overrepresented
among conservatives, tend
to support welfare programs,
until they discover those programs might also help people of
Take voting rights. Conservatives and Republicans
want to make it harder
for people to vote
in a nation that already struggles with voter turnout. This effort,
intended to ensure minority rule, is premised on a false
that millions of people vote for Democrats illegally. But in fact,
most of the very small handful of people caught illegally voting have
turned out to be Republicans.
back to abortion, it’s a fair bet that if anti-abortionists had
a way to ensure their own personal access to abortion when they
needed it, and a ban for everyone else, they might choose such a
There was a time when abortion was seen as
the first resort of birth control for sex-crazed teenagers. Such
visions fueled a fundamentalist Christian worldview of rampant
promiscuity among the youthful heathen masses. But today’s
patient needing an abortion
is a low-income woman in her late 20s who has already had one child
and cannot afford another one.
In fact, abortions are so
common that nearly
of all people capable of pregnancy will have one in their lifetimes
by age 45. That percentage may be even higher considering that
researchers find people severely underreport
Part of the problem is that until
recently there has been little narrative work done by organizations
supporting the right to an abortion to destigmatize the procedure.
Now more and more people are coming forward to tell
most of which are mundane tales about forgetting to take
contraception, or finding that their birth control method
Hollywood has been particularly egregious in
helping to cloak abortion access in a pall of shame. Recall the
wildly successful 2007 film “Juno” starring Elliot Page
as a pregnant teen who decides against getting an abortion and
carries an unwanted pregnancy to term. The film was typical of how
Hollywood treated characters struggling with unwanted pregnancies.
Screenwriter Diablo Cody concedes
that she wouldn’t write such a plot in today’s political
environment, saying, “In a way I feel like I had a
responsibility to maybe be more explicitly pro-choice, and I
Cody is not alone. So-called liberals
in Hollywood have written so many anti-abortion tropes into their
plot lines that some years ago activist Fatima
pleaded with women writers at a conference to begin normalizing
abortions on screen. Her exhortation appears to have worked and works
of fiction are finally treating abortion as the mundane and
shame-free health procedure that it is. But it’s too little,
too late and years of invisibility and shame paved the road to Roe
There will come a time when
anti-abortion conservatives finding themselves in need of abortion
services will have nowhere to turn to, becoming the victims of their
own wild success. The realization that abortions are part of
necessary health care that even they
need, will also be too little, too late.
commentary was produced by Economy
for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.