The Great Backlash is Upon Us: Women’s Reproductive Rights Are Under Assault

by on May 20, 2019 · 7 comments

in Under the Perfect Sun, Women's Rights

San Diego Women’s March, Jan. 2017

By Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew

The war on women is on.

Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, and, soon, Louisiana, will join several other states to enact draconian legislation aiming to criminalize abortion, and, by extension, women’s reproductive freedom. The purported endgame is to wave a red flag under the noses of the Supreme Court to get them to overturn Roe v. Wade and abolish legal abortion in the U.S. once and for all.

As Michelle Goldberg put it in the New York Times :

“You can see, in the anti-abortion movement, a mood of triumphant anticipation. Decades of right-wing politics have all led up to this moment, when an anti-abortion majority on the Supreme Court could end women’s constitutional protection against being forced to carry a pregnancy and give birth against their will.”

Make no mistake, this is not about “life.” If it were, gun owners would not have more rights than school children, the death penalty would be abolished, and we’d be fighting like hell to stop catastrophic climate change. No, these laws are about erasing women and their bodies and criminalizing healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood.

Like the political and legal attacks on immigrants and workers that preceded this round of barbaric legislative assaults on women’s reproductive rights, these misogynist laws are part of the systemic rollback of the gains made by women, people of color, and working people over the last century.

The great backlash is upon us in earnest.

As we head into a primary season where the leading candidate on the Democratic side continues to wax poetic about the good old days of bipartisanship, the events of last week serve as a harsh reminder that the only good old days the American Right cares about are those before many of us had any of the rights that too many of us came to take for granted.

Let this sink in for a minute: as a result of some of this new reactionary legislation, in some places in America, a rapist might receive a lesser punishment than a woman who aborts a pregnancy that is a product of a rape. We have a president who feels he can grab women by the pussy whenever he feels like it and lawmakers who think they own and control women’s uteruses.

The lovers of “life” shrug as the planet dies and offer “thoughts and prayers” for dead school children after mass shootings, while they relentlessly work to criminalize women for thinking they have the right to determine what they can do with their own bodies.

Indeed, the disgusting irony of how much of this legislation is framed is that by outlawing abortion, states are defending women.  As Missouri’s governor tweeted after state legislators passed their anti-abortion bill: “Thanks to leaders in the House and Senate, we are one vote away from passing one of the strongest #ProLife bills in the country — standing for life, protecting women’s health, and advocating for the unborn.”

On what planet is the abolishing of women’s control over their bodies a “protection”?

This upside-down world distortion of the truth is part and parcel of Republican efforts to shield their actions behind horrifying rhetoric aimed at obscuring what abortion actually is. Social media has become awash in screaming posts about Democrats’ embrace of “infanticide”—that most abortions are late-term and that “newborn babies” are being left to die or are “executed”.

Never mind that the vast majority—90%–of abortions are performed in the first trimester and that late-term abortions are incredibly rare, traumatic, and done because there’s something terribly wrong with the fetus or the mother is in grave danger. Those are the facts that Republican lawmakers and their supporters don’t want you to know.

Instead, they are drumming up the stuff of nightmares to distract people from the truth because they know they represent the minority.

Meanwhile countless women will suffer, even though most of these bills won’t go in to effect for awhile, if ever, and the Supreme Court may choose to chip away at Roe rather than overturn it outright.

This is personal for millions of women. Many of us have had abortions. Does this mean we’re all criminals now? And what’s next?

Last week could go down in history as a key moment, the beginning of a massive rollback of women’s rights.  If this isn’t the kind of future you want to live in, it’s time to get serious about fighting back. The other side of the aisle doesn’t want to play nice with anyone.

They’re playing for keeps.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank J May 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm

I have been sharing this great post with friends. Its spot on, please take a few minutes and share it.


retired botanist May 20, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Great blog! Wonderful, non-political explanation of the issue! Thanks for sharing, so hope it gets a wide readership!


sealintheSelkirks May 20, 2019 at 8:55 pm

It’s not a backlash. It’s a planned, decades-long takeover. First they went for the school boards and local offices. They now own the unSupreme Court.

The woman’s right to choose is history. Expect the worst though I would say to continue to work for the best outcome. What else is there, rolling over legs in the air?

Next will be the end of all forms of birth control. There are already Christian pharmacists that are doing this, refusing to fill doctor’s scripts. One must look beyond the moment here and realize this is only step one. The same extremist Christian evangelical fundies have co-joined both repeatedly in public demonstrations and in their literature (I keep finding that stuck in the property gate). Remember that in the Puritan’s world view sex is inherently evil if it doesn’t produce babies.

Was Margret Atwood a prophet or just really good at guessing the future?



retired botanist May 21, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Weird, because I was an Atwood fan decades ago, have read most of her stuff, and read Handmaiden’s Tale back in ’85 when it first came out. Clearly thought, back then, wow, this is pretty good SciFi. Never in my wildest dreams did I think 1) It would become a TV series (altho I haven’t actually seen it) and 2) it would so closely approach reality in my lifetime! What’s next? Are Bradbury’s tales going to come true as well? Pretty chilling in that Orwellian way….


sealintheSelkirks May 24, 2019 at 12:15 pm

What, retired botanist, you expecting a little Fahrenheit 451? Do you have your book to memorize picked out yet?

Or maybe M.K Wren’s ‘A Gift Upon the Shore?’ She wrote some serious scifi…well, pick up a used copy and see! The protagonist in this book is an amazingly clear-thinking woman. I have a list of her other work but haven’t found any used yet.

1984 started seriously getting hold of this country when Reagan was put into office three years before that date, and in the UK with Thatcher at the same time in Orwell’s own country.

Don’t get me going on that piece of history because I already got people mad here with Constitutional Crisis…

Scary how fiction becomes close to reality years later, isn’t it? Think H.G. Wells! Submarines, rocket ships? Are they crazy? Dreamers! But I guess Atwood and Orwell were really, really good at predicting the future because they wrote about their nightmares? Humans create a lot of nightmares but they have a lot of history to help do that…

I’ve handed out copies of that book of Atwood’s to people, and both Animal Farm and 1984. And Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. Gen. Smedley Butler’s ‘War is a Racket.’ I usually don’t get them back so I hope they continue to be loaned onward…and I pick up used copies to keep doing the same from Powell’s Independent used in Portland. I refuse to buy from Amazon, don’t even go there to look.

Very chilling, I’ll agree with that. Makes one’s stomach knot up. Theocracy and Fascism go hand in hand quite well.

in a high thin voice: Help Mr Wizard!!!


PS: no SASE yet? Just checking.


Shelly Schwartlander May 21, 2019 at 10:12 am

My hope is the Trump nominees will not last long, like many he’s appointed. I’m counting on their personality disorders that make them what they are, small men and sucked up old biddies who can’t stand women having rights to their own health and decisions, can’t stand any more competition including from educated and motivated women. Hopefully they will crumble under the prospect of acting honestly, without self-serving greedy intentions which is too much to expect from many like them. In fact even serving a lifelong appointment for many of these adamantly pro-life fanatics will not be possible in light of their acceptance of incest and rape that will likely manifest itself by their own activities or those they excuse. It’s not enough but is likely to take at least more than a few of them from serving out long terms!


retired botanist May 24, 2019 at 4:59 pm

haha, Seal! So loving the literary discourse! I’m just reading Orlean’s The Library Book (author of The Orchid Thief), which is fascinating, about the LA library fire in ’86, but about SO MUCH MORE!! Omg, the books burned/lost during war times- stunning stats! And in fact just learned that Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 was originally titled The Fireman! So glad to add new authors ( like MK Wren) to my list!
And, thx for asking, no sase on the sticker yet, but you keep me kindled, so will try get that sent this week!
Thx! :-)


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