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Texas’ new draconian abortion ban puts the hypocrisy of Republican politicians on full display.
Last night, in a 5-4 decision, the conservative super-majority U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a draconian Texas law that would ban abortions — including in cases of rape or incest — after the sixth week of pregnancy. The law dislocates enforcement away from the state, instead empowering private citizens to sue anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion procedure, offering them their legal fees and $10,000 if they win. This, in effect, puts a bounty on abortion providers and seeds an entire legal industry of abortion bounty hunters suing anyone and everyone they can connect to a procedure. It also makes the law nearly impossible to challenge in the courts.
Beyond the obvious denial of their rights, this law is an assault on the health and welfare of people who can get pregnant in Texas. Opening a bounty on those who would offer a safe means of abortion is tantamount to knowingly forcing them into unsafe, possibly deadly circumstances. After all, abortion restrictions don’t end abortions. Those with the means simply go elsewhere — while those without them are forced into more dangerous circumstances.
Upon signing the law into existence at a closed-door ceremony in May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives. And that’s exactly what the Texas Legislature did this session.” This is the same Greg Abbott who, weeks later, would go on to ban masks in schools in the midst of a delta surge in Texas. His actions were never about saving children’s lives.
To sharpen the irony, consider the fact that for weeks, conservative politicians have been haranguing the Biden administration over the end of the war in Afghanistan. We are abandoning the women and girls of Afghanistan, they tell us. Indeed, the Taliban’s extreme interpretations of Islam are a serious threat to the rights and welfare of Afghan women and girls.
And yet, as Abbott and his legislature are showing, Texas’s extreme interpretations of Christianity are a serious threat too. Conservative politicians and pundits are eager to hold up the ways that people leverage religious extremism to violate women’s rights to justify forever war when those people are brown, Muslim, and over there. And yet, in the same breath, they will defend people leveraging religious extremism to violate women’s rights when they are those people. And though the degree to which those rights are violated may differ, they are of the same stock.
There’s a broader frame here too. This is the United States of America, where we have a constitution establishing the rule of law over the rule of men. That constitution is founded upon the separation of church and state. Why? So as not to violate the right of any person to live as they choose so long as those choices don’t affect other people. Reading any one faith into the laws of our land implicitly violates the rights of those who practice a different faith, or no faith at all.
This was never about children or their lives, women or their protection, or even about God and his will. It was always about power. Governor Abbott, his legislature, and his abettors on the Supreme Court — like the Taliban in Afghanistan — are hiding behind a claim to know God’s will to wield power over women and girls. That is condemnable no matter where it happens, be it Texas or Afghanistan.