Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through hell.
William Carlos Williams, from the Introduction to
Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
The fact that I started this with an obscure quote by one cis white male about the poems of another cis white male screams an invitation for a thorough and withering feminist critique.
But then again, hasn’t that been the underlying modus operandi of corporate feminist NGOs that focus on abortion rights for decades?
The fact that a woman’s right to choose is in such a precarious position is totally the fault of the Democratic Party. Every Congressional term has been defined by liberals and progressives both working in tandem with each other like bad stage performers to insure Roe v. Wade is kept in the most fragile legal position possible. In every instance where the Democrats had a majority in both houses of Congress (remember 2006-2010?), they could have at the very least submitted a bill that would have brought matters out of case law and formally codified abortion rights within a concrete framework. To be absolutely clear, case law is equivalent to a dirt floor shack and Congressional legislation has the capacity to be a bomb shelter featuring a hot tub and a fully equipped kitchen.
Even were such a bill shot down by a veto, it would have rallied the base in a way to build momentum for a later victory. Tuesday night in Providence, the State Senate killed a bill that would have codified Roe for all Rhode Islanders. I am sympathetic to their plight (obviously) and likewise am disgusted with their opponents. But I simultaneously am forced to say without one ounce of glee or gloating that it feels like too little too late. This is a battle that should have been fought tooth-and-nail a decade ago when Obama had lock-tight control of the Congress and there was still the so-called “Pro-Choice Firewall” of 41 reliable Senate votes.
Over the decades, as the Supreme Court became a lunatic asylum of neocon apparatchiks, the Democrats used preservation of Roe as a campaign plank for awful candidates, prioritizing re-election of predominantly cis white men over every other consideration. And even that measly offering was racist as all hell. The demand itself maintains what amounts to a complete free market provision of abortion care. In the grand total of everything pertinent to this issue, the defense of Roe makes sure that middle class (read: majority white) women have access to a medical service that costs them a few paychecks. What about the millions of working class and poor BIPOC women who never seen all that money in an entire financial quarter? There’s places in America where African American women are forced to subsist on two fungible dollars per day, how can you expect them to pay out of pocket upwards of $2,000? Don’t their choices count?
With only 50 percent in support of abortion rights and 35 percent against, Democrats would risk losing some of the conservatives we used to call Reagan Democrats, or just swing voters, especially Catholics. Incredibly, you’re more likely to poke someone who likes gay marriage than abortion when you shake a stick. Of even greater concern to Democratic strategists is losing leverage over their progressive wing. Following decades of marginalization and watching their political views overlooked in favor of Clintonite “Third Way” centrists, the left is disgruntled, voting and giving donations in smaller numbers.
As the Congresswoman says, it’s all about the Benjamins…
The reality is that illegal abortions will always be kept safe for the daughters of anti-choice Supreme Court justices and the politicians who put them on the bench. If Roe is reversed, it will be yet another violent, bloody attack on BIPOC women that the corporate feminist nonprofits have been pleasantly ignoring for decades.
The decision by those organizations to endorse Hillary Clinton, over four months before the end of the primary season and three months before Super Tuesday, demonstrated a moral and political bankruptcy that remains undeniable in hindsight. Whether interrogating her role in domestic policies like Bill’s welfare abolition or foreign policy decisions, namely the American-backed pogrom in Libya that targeted Black African migrant workers, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and others like them had zero interest in actually admitting Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate whose record was so abhorrent that any feminist worth their salt should have been vomiting. I have all the fundraiser and press release emails from those outfits in my archives. The PR spectacle they participated in would have suggested that she was some sort of postmodern neoliberal Madonna, ascendant with a kind of beatific glory to give Fatima a run for their money. The only person who I recall that acknowledged Clinton’s miserable history while advocating for casting a ballot for her was political scientist Adolph Reed, Jr., who titled his piece of writing Vote for the Lying Neoliberal Warmonger: It’s Important. Nothing of the sort was written by Ilyse Hogue or Madeline Albright or any of the other corporate feminists that pontificated mightily about the sin of not marking the ballot for Clinton.
I was no fan of Bernie Sanders and find his disappointments continuing to pile up as we move into the 2019-2020 electoral season. But in terms of simple logic, he could have beaten Trump and denying that is informed by the exact same impulse which has brought us to this moment.
Owing to the fact that the fate of so many now lies in the hands of a bunch of cis Roman Catholic men, it seems worthwhile to revisit a gem written by Gary Wills, author of numerous Catholic apologetics, Abortion Isn’t a Religious Issue:
…The Catholic Church [did not] treat abortion as murder in the past. If it had, late-term abortions and miscarriages would have called for treatment of the well-formed fetus as a person, which would require baptism and a Christian burial. That was never the practice. And no wonder. The subject of abortion is not scriptural. For those who make it so central to religion, this seems an odd omission. Abortion is not treated in the Ten Commandments — or anywhere in Jewish Scripture. It is not treated in the Sermon on the Mount — or anywhere in the New Testament. It is not treated in the early creeds. It is not treated in the early ecumenical councils… If we are to decide the matter of abortion by natural law, that means we must turn to reason and science, the realm of Enlightened religion. But that is just what evangelicals want to avoid. Who are the relevant experts here? They are philosophers, neurobiologists, embryologists. Evangelicals want to exclude them because most give answers they do not want to hear. The experts have only secular expertise, not religious conviction. They, admittedly, do not give one answer — they differ among themselves, they are tentative, they qualify. They do not have the certitude that the religious right accepts as the sign of truth.