Stop the bans — protect abortion rights

 

Today, May 21, on the National Day of Action to Stop Abortion Bans, pro-choice protests are being kicked off in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and will continue around the country the rest of the week.

On Sunday, protesters filled the streets in front of the Alabama capitol in Montgomery, protesting a cruel, near-complete ban on abortion signed into law last week that could jail a physician for up to 99 years. (“I have prayed my way through this bill,” said the bill’s sponsor, Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins.)

Today, a federal court in Mississippi will hear arguments over a law enacted to ban abortion at six weeks. Mississippi passed its so-called “fetal heartbeat bill” in March, banning abortion at six weeks, with no exception or rape or incest. Already this year, Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky have also signed into law so-called “fetal heartbeat” bills. The very name is a misnomer, as there is neither a fetus at six weeks of pregnancy nor a heartbeat (just electric activity). The Georgia law confers “personhood” on a conceptus, creating a whole host of legal absurdities, not to mention the possibility that women undergoing “suspicious” miscarriages could be prosecuted for murder.

Any day now, the governor of Missouri is expected to sign a ban on abortion at 8 weeks. The bill was passed on Friday, the last day of the legislative session, as the capitol in Jefferson City filled with abortion rights activist protesters. Gov. Mike Parsons has promised to sign the bill, which makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, only for medical emergencies.

Next will come Louisiana, where the Democratic governor has said he will break party rank to sign a so-called “fetal heartbeat bill,” should the bill passes his state legislature.

In the midst of this tsunami of antiabortion restrictions, President Donald Trump, while averring he favors rape and incest exceptions, bragged over Twitter this weekend:

“We have come very far in the last two years with 105 wonderful new Federal Judges (many more to come), two great new Supreme Court Justices, the Mexico City Policy, and a whole new & positive attitude about the Right to Life.”

That boast is scarier than any of the obviously unconstitutional legislation being passed by these states. Those federal judges underwent screenings by the Religious Right, and will be judging decisions such as the abortion bans for a generation or more.

It is all-out warfare, as Staci Fox, Planned Parenthood President Southeast, put it.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is deeply committed to abortion rights. Fighting to overturn criminal abortion laws is what led its founders, Anne and Annie Laurie Gaylor, to realize only strict separation between state and church would protect women’s rights, and all civil rights. The battle against abortion has exclusively been led by organized religion (Catholic, fundamentalist). These zealots seek to use the force of civil law to inflict their particular view of when life begins (based on “ensoulment”) upon the rest of us, often while also fighting against contraceptive access, the ultimate in irrationality.

They dogmatically view women as breeders, just as Genesis commanded: “…in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…” They waste no sympathy for victims of rape or incest (much less “consensual rape,” as a Missouri legislator put it this weekend), or life-threatening pregnancies. As the cliché goes, they care about human life all the way from conception . . . to birth. The antiabortionists commit the true “sin” of putting dogma and doctrine above people.

Look for details about the more than 350 registered events at the #StopTheBans website. Then speak up, protest, do something this week to protect abortion rights.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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