originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Writing about abortion is like leaping into a tornado, but here goes. I’ve always hated the idea of abortion, the term evokes pain and suffering as well as sorrow and mourning, whether you’re pro or anti-abortion. But I’ve advocated for giving women choice over their bodies since joining the many Jewish women involved in the first Women’s Liberation March in Manhattan in 1970.
While the protests of the seventies were a revolution, touching multiple area of our lives in the workplace and community, anti-abortionists saw us as irrational, unattractive feminist shrews. They called us “anti-family,” “angry battle-axes” and “radical Commie lesbians.” The “Domestic Infant Supply” language in the current supreme Court draft doesn’t just echo those sentiments, it magnifies them.
Weird how some things haven’t changed. Matt Gaetz, who’s being investigated for sex crimes, had a timeless response to the leaked Supreme Court’s anti-abortion document “How many of the women rallying against overturning Roe are over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches?” Once again, we’re supposed to give up control our bodies, cough up babies, go back to the kitchen and shut up.
Our protests in the seventies extended to issues of discrimination in a patriarchal society. You’d think that our progress over the decades would affirm women’s equality. But today, patriarchy advocates may ignore Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin: “I believe that eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades,” Some will say good! We need more housewives, more Domestic Baby Suppliers.
In the pursuit of power, patriarchal types don’t worry about investigations into their sex crimes and sexual harassment. Men who invoke the Divine and are supposedly are appointed by God are often excused, especially by right-wing white evangelicals.
No wonder we’re worried as we watch the mix of religion and politics ramp up attempts to ban abortions, even in the case of child rape and incest. According to one Ohio State representative, an underage victim should just say thanks for the “opportunity”.
Culture wars are super combustible when cultural conflicts combine with religious ones. The far-right, white evangelical support for revoking the 49-year old law can claim divine inspiration, but that’s not how all religious groups see the abortion issue. A March survey from the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of religious groups have more nuanced beliefs.
A member of a Brooklyn Zen Buddhist center said her faith calls for compassion and abortion bans fail to consider why women have abortions. Further, the bans would hurt the poor and marginalized the most. The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding reported that 56% of U.S. Muslims say abortion should be legal in most or all cases. A scholar-in-residence at the National Council of Jewish Women said, “This ruling would be outlawing abortion in cases [risk to life of mother] when our religion would permit us.” She pointed out that Judaism does not share the concept that life begins at conception.
We’re already seeing online cluster bombs launched in this emotional firestorm. They target so many facets of society: gender, generation, race, ethnicity, religion. Reactions now appear in corporate policies as well as legal ones. All this as the 2022 elections approach. Time to vote! I’ll be rejecting anyone who sees women as their sex toys or “Domestic Infant Suppliers.” How about you?