Good news, everyone! Lindsey Graham’s mask finally came off! And I’m not talking about the kind of mask one might wear when paying escorts to call one “Lady G”.
Remember how when the Democrats let the Republicans steal several Supreme Court picks by claiming you can’t appoint a justice six months before an election, and how they then filled those seats with rabid theocrats sometimes weeks before an election, and remember how we all knew these people were rabid theocrats, but they told Congress that Roe v. Wade was safe, established precedent upon precedent, and remember how they then overturned it the first chance they got, and remember how then, after Americans were stripped of their national right to access healthcare, Republicans reassured us that now it’s up to the states, so if you believe that women have the right to their own bodies you can just move to New York or California, and if you believe that women are mere vessels who should be forced against their will to carry a fetus to term, you can move to Florida or Texas! I mean, fuck the people who can’t afford to move or simply don’t want to for the many reasons why a person might prefer to live in the place they live right now, but at least those of us lucky enough to live in “blue” states like New York or California don’t need to worry about our rights being impinged, right? They wouldn’t lie about that, right? Like they lied about the other things? They can’t do that, right? Lie about how much they value “state’s rights”? They really mean it when they say things like “the Civil War was fought over state’s rights, not slavery?” They wouldn’t lie about that, right??
OF COURSE THEY WOULD LIE ABOUT THAT, you absolute nincompoop! You naive pudding brain! They lie about everything, constantly! Until now, that is, when Lindsey Graham, a senior senator from South Carolina, stood before a terrifying cadre of smiling Stepford Wives and officially introduced a bill that would ban abortion on the federal level after 15 weeks. This isn’t completely against the idea of state’s rights, because it would actually leave in place the stricter measures put in place by conservative states. No, the only states that would be affected would be the liberal states, where we would now be forced to ban abortions. So it’s not so much a federal abortion ban, it’s more of a “Republicans force people living in liberal states to adhere to their religious-based misogynistic ideas of women’s autonomy.”
They’re all about state’s rights so long as those states are doing what they want, which makes you think what would have happened if they’d won the Civil War: would New York still be able to outlaw slavery? Hmm!
Anyway, the fallout from Graham’s announcement has been fascinating to watch. We all knew that a federal abortion ban – not at 15 weeks, but a complete ban from the moment of fertilization – was always the end goal of the religious fanatics who have successfully infiltrated the US government at every level. But the Religious Right has always been pretty good at hiding their intentions from people who are more credulous: distracting the discourse with nebulous ideas like “viability” and, well, “state’s rights.” So it’s weird to see that successful tactic suddenly go out the window at what seems to be a particularly crucial time.
The Supreme Court reversing Roe inspired a huge reaction in people who actually want women in this country to have rights: a Kaiser Family Foundation survey from this past summer found that among “women between the ages of 18 and 49…there has been a fourteen percentage point increase in the share who say abortion will be “very important” to their 2022 midterm vote (59% in February to 73% in July). In addition, six in ten women voters between 18 and 49 now say they are “more motivated” to vote because of the Supreme Court’s decision (up 19 percentage points from May when the question was asked about a scenario in which Roe was overturned based on a leaked draft opinion). The vast majority (88%) of the more motivated group of women voters between 18 and 49 say they plan on voting for candidates who will protect access to abortions.”
Now, polls are one thing and actual voter turnout is a whole other thing, as we’ve seen again and again. And up until the SCOTUS ruling, most political junkies seemed to think that November was going to be disastrous for the Democrats’ tenuous hold on both houses of Congress. But it sure seems like the right to an abortion is a pretty popular thing here in the US, and attacking that right directly and openly is galvanizing people to vote out conservatives – even many registered Republicans seem to be grossed out because they are suddenly realizing that the Religious Right’s end goal would mean that EVEN THEY can’t just drive over a border for a quick abortion if they need one. Or, if their secret affair partner needs one. Or their daughter. Whatever. It’s basically the only way to convince a Republican to vote against the Republican agenda: make them realize the bad policies will affect THEM, and not just the poors or the nonwhites.
So after Lindsey Graham said the quiet part out loud, a LOT of his fellow conservatives are pissed and it is VERY funny. Mitch McConnell has thrown a hissy fit, Charlie Kirk melted down so badly that his face shrunk 3 more sizes, and even Fox News is yelling at Graham to his face, with all of them saying more or less the same thing: yes, we all want a national abortion ban, but we have to trick America into doing it. Like, at least wait until after the election?
Now they’re all scrambling to make this national abortion ban seem like not THAT big of a deal, and my favorite talking point is Republicans saying “Look, we’re just copying laws already in place in France and many other European countries.” Graham’s own press release for his ban opens with “The legislation would set a federal minimum protection for unborn children that is in line with European limits and ban abortion after 15 weeks gestation when unborn children can feel pain.”
So that’s a lie – I know, I know, would he really? Would he lie about that TOO? Yes, he lies about everything. In reality, many European countries DO place limits on abortion, but not in the way that Graham has proposed. In France, for instance, a person can get an abortion for absolutely any reason up until 14 weeks’ gestation. But abortions aren’t banned after that time: you can still get an abortion for reasons like “carrying this fetus to term would negatively affect my physical OR MENTAL health.” Also, compared to the US pregnant people in France are much more likely to be able to get an abortion by 14 weeks, because France provides everyone with comprehensive healthcare. There’s no need for women to start GoFundMe campaigns, or figure out complicated travel plans to other states complete with hotel stays.
Is France’s law perfect? Hell no. Activists there have been pushing hard for change, and even this year they were able to extend the “no questions asked” limit from 12 to 14 weeks plus increase access to medication abortions via telehealth appointments so patients don’t even have to go into a medical facility. And while there are plenty of reasons why someone can still access an abortion after 14 weeks, now it’s time for France to introduce legislation that will bring it in line with countries that have safer laws, like the Netherlands, where abortion is legal for any reason up to 24 weeks.
I can’t get over the fact that Republicans are now scrambling to convince the American public that actually they’re not completely bonkers, see? They just want to be like European healthcare! You know, the healthcare systems they’ve previously branded as “socialism” or “communism” or “Stalinism” or whatever “-ism” is going to scare their base the most.
So yeah, they’re lying about lots of things but the one true thing here is that no matter what, Republicans are coming for your bodily autonomy, whether you live in Brownsville Texas or the Upper East Side. Graham’s bill isn’t going to see the light of day now, but if the Democrats lose in November you can be sure you will see either that one or something even worse. And then you’re going to see another one regarding same sex marriage. And maybe creationism being taught in schools. Maybe outlawing birth control. They’re going to challenge legal elections, they’re going to gerrymander blue counties to steal elections, they’re going to bury democracy and put a cross on the grave and make you pray to it. So, you know, keep all this in mind as ballots start appearing in mailboxes. Vote these fuckers out if you still can.