Make extremists afraid again

Writing on Medium, Jessica Valenti discusses the horrific anti-abortion legislation in Georgia, which from 2020 will ban abortions after six weeks – a period during which many women aren’t even aware that they’re pregnant. It’s going to ruin the lives of many women.

The law may also consider women who have miscarriages as murderers in the second degree.


Republicans want to ensure that women are forced to carry pregnancies no matter how far along they are, and these so-called heartbeat bills do double duty: They prevent women from legally being able to obtain an abortion, and were written with the hope that they’d be challenged all the way to the Supreme Court to help overturn Roe v. Wade.

The open viciousness of the legislation, which would treat mothers of stillborn children as murderers, is staggering.

Up until recently, the anti-abortion movement would have taken great pains to pretend that women wouldn’t be punished under such a law. That the GOP no longer has the need for such niceties should scare every single one of us.

…Those who once fought so hard to seem “woman-friendly” have seemingly given up on their public image problem — embracing the most radical rhetoric.

For some years now, the religious right in the US (and beyond; the anti-abortion mob’s money funds groups here in the UK too) has attempted to camouflage its anti-women views and its anti-gay views for fear of seeming extreme. But it’s become emboldened by the success of its anti-trans campaigning, and by the support of the criminal in the White House.

…before now, the country and culture necessitated that they shroud their most extreme views.

It does not bode well for the women of America that this is no longer the case.

It won’t be the case here in the UK for much longer either. The religious right has had great success here in mainstreaming viciously anti-trans views and campaigning for the removal of trans people’s hard-won human rights, something that until very recently the chattering classes would have reacted to with horror. Emboldened by that success, the campaigning has long abandoned its “reasonable concerns” posturing to become a hate campaign that targets the very groups who work with society’s most vulnerable women.

That’s no accident. The religious right has deliberately and cynically targeted anti-trans feminists in order to legitimise a long-term strategy that is also against women’s reproductive freedom, against equal marriage and against anti-discrimination protection for the victims of religious extremism. And it’s working. Again and again we see the anti-trans crowd apparently having no problem linking arms with the enemies of feminism: the anti-abortionists, the “women know your place” crowd, the right-wing religious fundamentalists.

It’s astonishing to see. To use a colourful metaphor, it’s watching chickens recruit hungry foxes to protect them from something the foxes promise is really, really bad.

It’s a funny image, but it’s not funny unless you’re one of the foxes.

The rise of viciously anti-women legislation in the US is because the bigots aren’t afraid any more. When Donald Trump and his supporters in the media victimised muslims and trans people, the message was clear: you don’t have to hide your bigotry any more. Dangerous, hateful anti-abortion and “religious freedom” legislation were the inevitable next steps.

Here in the UK we’ve seen a very similar process, although in our case it was Brexit rather than a travel ban that put racism back in mainstream society. We’ve got the racism, we’ve got the vicious anti-trans sentiment.

You don’t need to be a Very Stable Genius to predict what’s next.