On 45th anniversary, Roe v. Wade never under greater threat

1ForwardStatueFeminism

In the heady feminist era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, let's work hard to ensure it's also not #timesup for legal abortion in this nation. The right to choose, enshrined in Roe v. Wade, which turns 45 years old today, has never been more vulnerable to Religious Right attack.

Instead of celebrating women's right to choose, President Trump declared today "National Sanctity of Human Life Day." He might as well have named it "Mandatory Motherhood Day," as that is what the "antis" are seeking to enforce: No abortion, no contraceptive access.

Although Presidents Reagan and Bush made similar antiabortion declarations on January 22, and occasionally addressed the "anti" marchers by phone, Trump has become the first president in history to address, via live video, the annual anti-Roe v. Wade march in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Not coincidentally, last year Mike ("I am a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican —in that order") Pence became the first vice president to address the annual march in person. This year, before the march, Pence invited antiabortion leaders to a private reception at the White House.

These cozy appearances are evidence of the current Administration's decision to continue pandering to the Religious Right that put Trump in office. Last year, Trump issued a directive essentially overturning Obamacare's contraceptive mandate —thereby letting any employer with religious or moral objections deny insurance coverage to workers for birth control. Trump also put forth a far more draconian global gag order barring U.S. funding to public health organizations oversees.

During his unctuous address Friday, Trump announced more attacks on reproductive rights:

"Today, I'm announcing that we have just issued a new proposal to protect conscience rights and religious freedoms of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. So important. (Applause.) Read FFRF’s statement, "FFRF condemns reckless ‘religious freedom’ division at HHS." 

"I have also just reversed the previous administration's policy that restricted states' efforts to direct Medicaid funding away from abortion facilities that violate the law. (Applause.)" Although Trump has not been able to get Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, he's now making it easier for states to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood clinics.

Trump vowed to continue to push for an antiabortion agenda in the rest of his time in office: "That is why we march, that is why we pray, that is why we declare that America's future will be filled with goodness, peace, joy, dignity and life for every child of God."

And the antiabortionists, just like the evangelicals, are eating this up, expressing no moral compunctions about mixing with a strange bedfellow. "President Trump has never pretended to be a Bible-banging evangelical," as Penny Young Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, told the New York Times.

During his address, Trump cynically inveighed in favor of ". . . a society where life is celebrated, protected and cherished." As the antiabortionists' new, most powerful spokesperson, Trump proves how very true is the adage that the Religious Right cares about human life all the way from conception . . . to birth.

The right to choose is not only a right of privacy, but of conscience. The antiabortion movement is fueled by the religious dogma that "life begins at conception," equating a conceptus with a human being, based on the religious belief in ensoulment. Those who do not approve of abortion should not have one, and ought to butt out of the most personal decisions women make. And they, of all people, should also be working to make contraception more — not less — accessible. The illogic of Trump, the Catholic Church and fundamentalist Protestants who work to deprive women of access to reliable contraception that prevent unwanted pregnancies reveals that the antiabortion movement is based on a desire to control, punish and subjugate women.

As Margaret Sanger wrote, "No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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