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With Roe Dead, the Right Will Find a New Justification for Peeling Back Equality


On Tuesday night, a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision to overturn abortion protections sent off a shockwave. Written by Justice Samuel Alito, it appears to show that the Court’s final decision will not only strike down landmark decisions Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but that the reasoning will be a full-throated acceptance of Christian fundamentalism and white fascism.

And it will get worse.

From the very beginning, abortion has been used by the emergent religious right in America as a means to an end, not an end itself. Frustrated by government desegregation of schools and increasing civil rights, figures like Jerry Falwell and Phyliss Schlafly built a new empire on opposing reproductive choice as a way to shepherd in far-right politicians more amendable to stamping out legal protections and social safety nets.

Before the Moral Majority, opposition to abortion was mostly limited to Catholics and a few other groups. It simply was not seen as this existential component of conservatism or Christianity. However, it became the perfect tool to push back against socialism and gender/racial equality. By comparing reproductive health choices to literal murder, the new far-right placed conservatives and liberals in an endless war between good and evil. No matter what, the right could point to the left as baby killers, and then whatever means to stop Democrats from getting elected was justified.

It was a tremendously dangerous gambit that has poisoned politics in America ever since. By painting abortion as mass infanticide instead of necessary, lifesaving healthcare, conservatives created an eternal enemy that needed to be destroyed. In the process, it also enabled them to elect people who firmly believed that helping the poor, disabled, and marginalized was a communist plot to thwart the will of God.

It’s expected that by the end of the year abortion will be almost completely banned in about half of the states, including Texas. Conservatives will have gotten everything they wished for; their half-century quest completed.

Anyone who expects them to put down the sword afterward is a very poor student of power. The narrative power of fighting literal child murderers is not something to be cast aside. Like a Friday the 13th sequel, the monster will simply find a new set of targets to justify the bloody carnage it leaves behind.

We’re already seeing some of this. The fight against trans rights will likely make a compelling new bugbear for conservatives. They already claim that trans people are molesting children in bathrooms and brainwashing them into grisly surgeries. None of it is true, but none of what they said about abortion as true either, so why should it matter?

Opposition to abortion, to reproductive choice, is rooted in white fascism and patriarchy. It combines a need to outbreed other races with chaining women down in ways that makes them less able to compete with men in the workplace. This fight has always been about keeping the scales tipped firmly for existing power structures and preventing equality. That’s why it was used to drive people into supporting leaders who have torn down organized labor and opposed universal healthcare. “We have to stop the murderers” has been the bit of cheese used to get the pill of social inequality down the throats of people who might otherwise have wondered more closely about what they were doing.

The anti-reproductive choice folks have won, and any military historian will tell you that imperial armies don’t stop marching until they run out of worlds to conquer.

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