By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS—With their assault on reproductive rights, Texas conservatives have made a few things clear.
The new law those Lone Star State radical rightists rammed through—and the U.S. Supreme Court, unconscionably, has allowed for the moment to stand—represents as assault on both law and precedent.
It also demonstrates they mean little, if any, of what they say.
And it shows that they have no regard for women and women’s capacities to make informed and rational decisions about their own lives and health.
First, some background.
This new Texas law outlaws abortion after the sixth week, even in instances of rape and incest. It also deputizes every resident of the state to report on and sue anyone—the woman, her doctor, a friend who loans a woman money for the procedure, a clergy member who drives her to the clinic—who helps her have an abortion after the sixth week. The person who rats out the poor woman and those who aid her stands to collect a $10,000 bounty.
As a practical matter, this new law invalidates Roe v. Wade.
Many women don’t know they are pregnant until more than six weeks have passed. Most don’t know if they are until at least four weeks have gone by—and abortions often can’t be performed that early.
That means these jihadists in Texas have decided they know more about what is good for a woman and her health than her doctor does.
Than her family does.
Than she does.
What makes this so offensive is that these same folks are the ones arguing that they shouldn’t be required to get a vaccine or wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19, regardless of the damage their refusal does to the lives and health of others.
Their reasoning for refusing to prevent other people from dying?
“My body, my choice.”
But they don’t extend the same sort of logic—or protection—to women.
This blatant double-standard makes clear at least two things.
The first is that the people in the anti-reproductive rights crowd who also are part of the anti-vaccine and anti-mask mobs aren’t pro-life at all. If they were, they would be eager to save the lives of people walking and breathing now.
The second is that these folks really, really, really are threatened by and don’t like women. Their focus is less on preserving life than it is on curtailing the choices women may make. The thought that women might be able to control their own bodies and their own destinies scares them right into almost exponential hypocrisies.
Their frequent protestations of devotion to the doctrine of limited government are not the least of these hypocrisies.
Not only does this latest assault on privacy illustrate this point—how can a government be considered limited that has the power to make the most intimate personal decisions for individuals?—but so does the method of enforcing it.
In effect, Texas has made every citizen opposed to reproductive rights an unvetted and unconstrained law enforcement official. This greatly expands the reach and the power of the government—and does so in ways that are likely to go unchecked.
What is to prevent anti-abortion zealots from making false reports? What penalty or sanction will they face? Where is the accountability conservatives so often claim they value?
This new law, slipshod and mean-spirited as it is, may prove to be one of those hinge points in American history.
It is likely to motivate female voters, including those in suburban battlefield districts, to continue their drift away from the Republican Party regardless of how much they may agree with the GOP on other issues. If they’re not allowed to own their own bodies, then promises of tax cuts may not mean as much to them—if they’re willing to believe any conservative promises at all, that is.
It also will increase the pressure on President Biden and Democrats in the U.S. Senate to reform Supreme Court nominating procedures and expand the size of the court.
But those possibilities are down the road.
In the short term, this new Texas law reveals some truths about supposed pro-life conservatives.
In short, they aren’t pro-life.
And they aren’t conservative.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.