Man, those vaginas are troublemakers. They’re either luring in your manly parts, shooting out brats or busting the budget out with plumbing problems.
Republican men and women historically have had an especially fraught and skittish relationship with them. The kindest perspective one may assume toward those entrenched in the belief that resistance to abortion and contraception has anything to do with fetal life rather than everything to do with sex is to credit them with a kind of precious gullibility.
In historical terms, whether the matrix of an ancient unease over female sexuality is male anxiety over losing wimmin folk to more appealing or sexually proficient men (my best guess) or embrace of the vagina dentata (vagina with teeth) of folklore as potentially real, lady parts to be regarded as fast-moving, fearsome snapping turtles dangerous in the wild and subject to control, I’m withholding certitude.
What’s indisputable is how this fear and unease wormed its way into law, religion and taboo as they pertain to women. It traditionally has been a key factor informing conservative political movements’ and religious entities’ attitudes and actions toward women and their health. We know this. The manifestations have not been subtle. Nor ephemeral.
That fetus isn’t a little treasure: it’s a slowly gestating consequence of sexual activity that must be guaranteed to proceed as the only and best option for restraint on any ease of sexual indulgence (O.M.F.G.)
Conservatism has a rich, documented history of contempt for life, whether promiscuous favoring of elective wars and capital punishment, antipathy toward an effective, life-sustaining safety net, access for every citizen to life-preserving health care as a basic right or toward advancements in human and civil rights across the board at every stage. Reverence for life is not what jumps out at one from this queasy record.
Anti-abortion ferocity provides a convenient source of political sanctimony, a convenient moral absolutism in the political sphere. It is perhaps an especially convenient, if transparent attempt to mitigate or counter conservatisms’ and Republicans’ demonstrable hostility to life elsewhere with cynical high dudgeon about the inviolability of the fetus.
This opportunistic sanctifying of an even microscopic living presence in the womb never has been and never should be morally persuasive. The fact that the convictions, religious or otherwise of some about this are real, doesn’t make them any less irrational, nor change their spurious origins or political convenience.
Since the 2010 elections that put Republicans in full control of numerous state governments, the state level mini-Robespierres have moved to include antediluvian legislation pertaining to women’s health among their Reign of Terror measures that likewise express unease with people of color voting, full citizen participation in the voting franchise, and genuine democratic results, or authentically democratic governance.
The new medieval abortion laws and broader assaults on available contraception fit nicely with the anger-based, spite-fueled ideological maximalism emanating from the mainstream Republican Party now. One cheerful way to look at it is that the same people who deny climate change and evolution are going to be in charge of female reproductive health. Not only are the inmates running the asylum, they’re operating the obstetrics and gynecology ward.
That 22 states adopted 70 different abortion restrictions in 2013 alone, that 200 anti-abortion measures in 30 states have been initiated in the post-2010 Republican-induced Gotterdammerung across the states is the bad news, more evidence, though none was needed of the flagrantly woman-hostile component of this particular coordinated iteration of conservative regression.
The good news is that this female-targeted aspect of the current and growing Republican detachment from American majority predilections, as reflected in polling, actual voting in gubernatorial races and the volume of political dismay has aroused an equally adamant and infuriated opposition, and that resistance efforts by women in particular have some teeth in them to be sure.