Want Abortion Back? First, Women Have to Die.

            The Supreme Court has sent a message: we’re no longer in the business of ratifying social change. No more legislating from the bench. If Americans want abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception legalized as opposed to merely tolerated, they should look to Congress.

            Distraught over the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many women are searching for a quick fix—and they’re right. A 20,000-abortion-per-week nation can’t go to 10,000 overnight without dire social, economic and medical consequences. But the system won’t give us the rapid remedy we need.

            Women will have to die. They’ll have to die in ugly ways. Their deaths will have to be public.

            Congress won’t help. Bless her heart, Elizabeth Warren articulated the Democrats’ plan, which is magical thinking at its finest: “If we pick up two more senators [in November], we can ditch the filibuster and make Roe the law of the land.” Odds of Democrats losing seats and Senate control are solid; odds that they’ll gain two or more seats are slim to none.

            Neither will the Supreme Court. Only one justice, Clarence Thomas, is likely to die in the next year or two. He’s 74, overweight and rumored to be in poor health. Even if Mitch McConnell allowed Biden to hold a vote and the president were to replace Thomas with a liberal, the conservative majority would remain 5-to-4. Adding new (liberal) justices to the Supreme Court is a pipe dream that would require a 60-vote Democratic supermajority, not to mention changing Biden’s mind about packing the court.

            We the people won’t act either. Now that Roe is no more, look at what has happened in the streets: Nothing, unless you count a few sporadic, easily-ignored, low-attendance protest demonstrations. Pro-choice groups like NARAL are still fundraising, not mass-mobilizing.

            Want abortion back? Women are going to have to die hard, ugly, public deaths.

            A 2021 study estimates that 140 additional women will die each year in the U.S. due to complications from pregnancies that otherwise would have been terminated in abortions.

            Vaguely- and carelessly-written statutes allowing for abortions in case of medical emergencies will kill even more. Women with heart conditions and diabetes are at higher risk of death during childbirth, but what level of risk rises to an emergency? Who makes the call, a doctor or a judge? How many doctors will take the safest course—for themselves—and refuse to perform a needed abortion? Some abortion bans are so sweeping that the procedure isn’t permitted even in case of a miscarriage, which can lead to fatal sepsis unless the fetus is removed.

“What does the risk of death have to be, and how imminent must it be?” University of Michigan reproductive health professor Lisa Harris asked in The New England Journal of Medicine. “Might abortion be permissible in a patient with pulmonary hypertension, for whom we cite a 30-to-50% chance of dying with ongoing pregnancy? Or must it be 100%?”  Doctors in states where abortion is now illegal will probably “wait to that very last minute when it’s clear that a patient will die to do the procedure, and that’s just not an ideal time to do any kind of intervention.”

Pathetic and absurd and wrong, yet plainly true, is that the quickest and likeliest route toward codifying abortion rights into federal law will begin with one, or more likely several, highly-publicized cases of women who suffer hideous deaths because Roe is no more. If enough of those tragedies go viral on social media, there may eventually be enough horror and outrage across the political spectrum to persuade some Republicans to join Democrats into passing an abortion-rights law.

            This, of course, is no guarantee. Many thousands of innocents have been slaughtered in mass shootings, all caught in gruesome high-definition video and spread via social media, yet Congress has barely begun to act on gun control measures. Cops routinely murder Black men on video yet the police remain woefully un-defunded. Women’s deaths may be like that, piling up with nary a “thought and prayer” for a generation or more until the United States rejoins the developed world and restores Roe.

            Without the Supreme Court, a functional Congress or sustained, energetic grassroots activism, however, outrage prompted by social media and high-profile martyrs are all we can hope for under this current system.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Order one today. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

3 Comments. Leave new

  • alex_the_tired
    July 6, 2022 2:03 PM

    “Distraught over the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many women are searching for a quick fix—and they’re right” and “Bless her heart, Elizabeth Warren articulated the Democrats’ plan, which is magical thinking at its finest: ‘If we pick up two more senators [in November], we can ditch the filibuster and make Roe the law of the land.’ ”
    Women are wrong to search for a quick fix. It is not possible to quick-fix this. Warren’s “plan”? Even worse than nothing, as it delays, distracts, and demoralizes the base even further when (surprise), wishing for a pony super, super hard doesn’t work. Warren, if she didn’t have her head up her ass, would not only understand that fact, she would forcefully communicate it to her base because (as Ted correctly states) women are going to die because of this. Every wasted “political” gesture, every Clintonian “tactic” that has anal virginity’s chance of getting through a 10-year prison sentence, means more dead women.
    The women have one realistic option left. They have to go out and start breaking shit. Obstruct, destroy, delay. When they break enough, they will get what they want. “Oh, but they’ll inconvenience their friends and allies! This won’t work! You have to build bridges! You have to compromise! Vote Biden! Smile more, you’re so pretty when you smile!”

  • The Supreme Court (until the FDR years) was the most conservative non-military branch of the US government and it has slipped back into what it was in the 19th century. If Biden wasn’t the Grandpa-in Chief, he would be packing it for balance.

    There’s an abortion clinic in Tijuana, B.C. that was getting American business from as far away as the Midwest. By the time this legal war is over, there will be five of them.

  • alex_the_tired
    July 13, 2022 6:37 PM

    Just to memorialize this. Today, on my way through Union Square, I saw four people standing in the center of the square, one young woman had a sign about fighting for abortion rights. I almost went up to her. But “I’ve grown older and wiser” so I didn’t.
    Ladies, it’s simple. You have to fight. And you have to do it smart. And … frankly? You just don’t know enough. And for that, I am genuinely sorry because a lot of women and girls are going to die due to the “feminists” being incapable of asking “What’s the prize, and where are our eyes?”
    Love me , love me, love me …

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