To Reasonable Rational People counseling calm about abortion, one word: Aaaarrggh! | Arwa Mahdawi

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Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgggggh

I tried to think of a pithy introduction to this week’s newsletter. Something witty, something drily poking fun at the dystopic week we’ve had. Something that was not yet another reference to Gilead and the Handmaid’s Tale. But, unfortunately, all jokes were drowned out with internal existential screaming: aaaarggh.

First, there was the bombshell leak on Monday night of a draft supreme court opinion that appeared to show the court is ready to overturn Roe v Wade and the federal right to an abortion. While this was a shock it wasn’t exactly a surprise. When Donald Trump was elected plenty of people were worried about the future of reproductive rights in the US. Calm down, dear, we were told by Reasonable Rational People™. You’re being alarmist!

Like clockwork, the Reasonable Rational People™ emerged right after the supreme court leak to chide anyone worried that Republicans are not going to stop at overturning Roe but want to take away even more of our rights. “I think the people catastrophizing about contraception or interracial marriage being next after Roe sincerely believe it,” a (female) Washington Post columnist snarked on Twitter on Wednesday. “But I’m sorry, I cannot take this seriously.”

I’m sorry, we should all be taking this very seriously indeed. On the same day that prominent columnists were telling people to calm down – and less than 48 hours after the leaked supreme court opinion – Republicans in Louisiana advanced a bill that would redefine personhood to begin at the moment of fertilization and make abortion a crime of murder. Yes, you read that right: the moment of fertilization. I’m sure the people involved in drafting this law have no idea about how reproduction actually works (they like controlling female bodies, not learning about them), but between one-third and one-half of all fertilized eggs never fully implant. Which means someone in Louisiana needs to arrest God – he’s responsible for a hell of a lot of abortions! This incredibly broad definition of personhood also means that anyone experiencing an ectopic pregnancy (which are not viable and very dangerous) in Louisiana has only two choices: go to prison or die. And that’s not all: experts are worried that the law would criminalize in vitro fertilization as well as some forms of birth control.

There’s a reason I brought God up just now. There’s supposed to be a division between church and state in the US but the people who drafted the Louisiana law seemingly forgot about that. The proposal contains a line about “the sanctity of innocent human life, created in the image of God”. This is clearly unconstitutional – but that doesn’t bother the bill’s creators who have made it very clear that they don’t care about democratic norms. Indeed, the bill’s text states that the state should enforce the law “without regard to the opinions and judgments of the Supreme Court of the United States” on abortion.

It’s unclear whether the Louisiana bill will become law anytime soon. But what is clear is that we are going to see more and more extreme proposals like this. As I discussed in a previous Week in Patriarchy, radicalized Christian nationalism is a growing threat in the US; a small but very organised group of people are intent on turning the country into a modern theocracy. A few years ago a researcher called Frederick Clarkson exposed a Christian supremacist initiative called Project Blitz, whose mission is undermining the separation of church and state. You know what one major component of their strategy is? Flooding state legislatures with so many bills that trying to fight them becomes a game of “Whac-A-Mole”. And as liberals are busy playing Whac-A-Mole with proposals like this Louisiana bill, extremists and evangelicals are busy consolidating power. So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re “catastrophizing”.

Data broker sells locations of people who visit abortion clinics

According to Motherboard, a company called SafeGraph obtains location data from ordinary apps on people’s phones and sells it on. Planned Parenthood is classified by SafeGraph as a “brand” that can be tracked; Motherboard was able to get a week’s worth of data on where people who visited Planned Parenthood came from, and where they went afterwards for just $160.

Fox host says he doesn’t know why people would hire pregnant women for important jobs

Brian Kilmeade was referencing Nina Jankowicz, who was recently appointed to lead a newly created advisory board on misinformation at the Department of Homeland Security. She is eight months pregnant. Kilmeade, by the way, is a father of three. For some reason he doesn’t seem to think that becoming a father had any impact on his ability to do his job. (Then again, a racist potato could do his job, so that’s not saying much.)

Missing and murdered Indigenous women remembered

Thursday marked Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day in the US and Red Dress Day in Canada. As CNN reports: “Nationally, there were 764 unresolved cases of missing Native American people as of March 2022, according to data from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. But advocates and experts have said those figures do not reflect the full extent of the issue due to the lack of comprehensive data.

Menopausal women lack basic support, UK study finds

About 80% of women surveyed said their workplaces have no policies or help in place; 41% said menopause symptoms were treated as a joke by colleagues; 45% said they avoid speaking to their doctor due to stigma.

The week in pac-triarchy

The World Video Game Hall of Fame announced its latest inductees on Thursday; among the four “iconic” games are Ms Pac-Man. The 41-year-old arcade game is munching its way into the Hall of Fame seven years after Pac-Man.