The latest assault on Roe v. Wade
Romania under the iron fist of Nicolae Ceaușescu became one of the most oppressive totalitarian dictatorships of the 20th century. In 1967 Ceaușescu handed down his so-called Decree 770, wherein he outlawed abortion. Ceaușescu’s goal was to increase the population of Romania from 20 million to 30 million.
As his purpose was practical and not religious he permitted certain exceptions to his decree. For example, women over 45 were exempt, women who had already borne four children were exempt, women who were made pregnant through rape or incest were exempt and women whose life would be threatened by carrying a child to term were exempt. According to the latest anti-abortion law in Oklahoma, only this last exemption would apply there.
For a while Oklahoma was the biggest out-of-state destination for Texans seeking to terminate pregnancies. That option will soon disappear after the Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law the a near-total abortion ban, among the most restrictive in the nation. The law will go into effect 90 days after the state legislature adjourns next month.
The new Oklahoma law is a law to rival Texas in its draconian implications. It lacks the bizarre Texas provision that anyone can sue anyone else for performing or having an abortion for up to $10,000. But then it doesn’t really need it. The Texas law weirdly covers everywhere in the world. All you need do is file the suit in Texas and you can persecute any woman or any clinician you want. Oklahoma will do the rest.
This slow encroachment on the rights of women is unpopular. Fifty-nine percent of Americans are against banning abortion. The people who are legislating it are often against it too. It has been shown over the years that many anti-abortion activists have either had abortions or have paid for them. Donald Trump famously paid for 8 abortions for women he’s impregnated, for example.
Many opponents of abortion hypocritically undermine the historic Roe v. Wade landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court because they typically see it as a “liberal” cause. They are also opposed to it because abortion has become the bete noire of the evangelical right in the last fifty years or so.
More and more states are seeking ways to undermine Roe for the same reasons.
The political and religious battlelines over a woman’s right to choose are forming along state boundaries that are not dissimilar to the battlelines drawn prior to the American Civil War. The enemies of human liberty are alive and well and living in red states. Those enemies are only interested in stopping abortion. What happens to the mother or the child after it’s born is of absolutely no concern to them.
It is a feature of radical Republicanism to limit human liberty, just as it was with the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu. If there can be said to be a difference then the difference is Republicans want to go further than that Romanian fascist. They’re not content to be merely practical, they are also viciously anti-woman.
When Republicans officially abandoned any pretense of having a platform in the 2020 presidential election they replaced it with hatred, hatred of all things liberal, hatred of all things humane, hatred of the civil rights of anyone not white, not male and not rich. That hatred is growing like a cancer, and will become the law of the land the next time Republicans are in power. We must stop them. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.