Thursday, June 30, 2022

Life After Roe Will Be Worse Than Democrats Feared

It's from Katha Pollitt, a well-known extremist on abortion rights.

At the Nation, "We are dealing with religious fanatics, with police chiefs on a mission and prosecutors looking to make their careers in deeply red places":

Let’s not kid ourselves. The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade, is going to be a catastrophe. There’s a German proverb that translates roughly as “the soup is never eaten as hot as it’s cooked,” meaning things won’t be as bad as you fear. Sometimes that’s true, but it wasn’t for the Germans, and it won’t be for us.

For years pro-choicers have warned that the right to abortion was at risk, only to be called Chicken Littles by pundits and politicos, usually men. Some thought returning abortion to the states would lead to a middle-of-the-road practical solution and, more important, take abortion out of politics. Ha! Others were sure no one wanted bans to happen: Republicans only used “cultural issues” to distract voters from the party’s real agenda, screwing the working class on behalf of corporations. Thomas Frank made himself famous with a book devoted to that thesis, What’s the Matter with Kansas? I hope he apologizes to the women of Kansas, because the fears he dismissed have come to pass.

What can be done? Abortion funds, which raise money for low-income patients’ procedures, are wonderful, and you should give them all your money now, but even before Dobbs, they couldn’t help everyone in need. Their work will be harder now. On Monday, abortion funds in Texas suspended operations because of laws criminalizing helping women seeking to end their pregnancies. If you thought, as many did, that abortion opponents would be satisfied with a return to pre-Roe hypocrisies, when millions of women got abortions while law enforcement mostly looked the other way, think again.

What about traveling to pro-choice states, some of which have recently strengthened protections for abortion rights? That’s not so easy, even for people with money, although it will be much harder for low-income patients. Most women who have abortions are mothers, after all; many have jobs that won’t allow them time off. They can’t just pick up and fly to New York City or Chicago, or drive all day and night to reach the nearest clinic. They’ll need help, and help is expensive. The Brigid Alliance, an abortion travel service which pays all costs—transportation, lodging, food, child care—spends about $1,000 per patient. The influx of patients from states with bans will affect care in the states they travel to. Clinics are already overscheduled. Soon they will be overwhelmed.

Ah, but there are abortion pills, some say, which make it possible to end pregnancies cheaply at home. Pills are crucial, but not a panacea. Yes, they are safe, unlike illegal abortions pre-Roe, but you have to know they exist, how to find them, how to take them, and what to say if you end up going to the ER so you don’t get arrested. You have to know how pregnant you are—they don’t work so well after 12 weeks. You have to avoid copycat anti-abortion websites. And around 5 percent of the time, they won’t work. Who knows how long it will be legal to send them, by mail or in person, to an abortion-ban state? Abortion opponents are already working on ways to criminalize pills and people who make it possible to acquire them. The latest: Facebook and Instagram are taking down information on how to obtain them. Remember when information wanted to be free?

So let’s face it. In half the country, women are fetal vessels now. Their lives, their physical and mental health, their education, their employment, their relationships, their ability to care for their other children, their hopes, ambitions and dreams—none of that matters. What matters is that they incubate a fertilized egg and deliver an infant—which, as Amy Coney Barrett suggested, they can always drop off at the nearest safe-haven baby box. The law may not come after you if you give a pregnant friend money for the procedure or drive her to a free state; anti-abortion activists might not track your pregnancy digitally, as Jia Tolentino warns, but then again, they might (memo to readers: Delete your period tracker now). The capacity exists: to know your online searches, your travel plans, your proximity to a clinic. Does a fetal vessel have rights? I wouldn’t count on it...

Still more at that top link, if you're up to it.