Abortion is healthcare!
Yet in 2019 alone, Utah, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri have passed the most restrictive abortion laws in history with Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas in the queue. And it’s only May. White conservative evangelical christian men in red state legislatures are proposing and passing these unconstitutional abortion bills on so-called moral and spiritual grounds to challenge the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.
This would be consistent with what many people have long believed; that abortion has been the chief issue of evangelicals since before Roe v Wade – grounded in rigorous study and exegesis of scripture – when in fact it’s neither of those things. You might be surprised to learn that abortion was a manufactured issue to galvanize what would become the political religious right – after being unable to do so around their original brand – RACISM.
EVERYTHING IN THIS COUNTRY BEGINS WITH RACISM.
Brown v. The Board of Education was the court case that incensed white christian evangelicals politically, then Green v. Kennedy – a 1970 decision stripping tax-exempt status from “segregation academies.” Not Roe v. Wade ‘73. White christians were so upset by the decision to integrate schools that they began to erect and open all-white private christian institutions all over the country where they could continue to discriminate on the basis of color, arguing that because they did not receive federal funds they were not bound by federal laws. Except that those schools were granted tax exemption by the IRS under their religious affiliation. When the IRS learned of these segregated christian schools it began to demand that they integrate or pay taxes.
Angered by the government’s interference in ‘christian’ affairs, 2 white men in particular – 1st conservative activist Paul Weyrich and later Christian Fundamentalist Jerry Falwell – worked to create a movement to prevent the government from violating evangelicals’ “religious freedom” to discriminate against whoever from enrolling in their schools while still benefiting from federal tax breaks. The only problem was that by the 70s nobody was going to publicly plant their flag on a hill of racism and discrimination, so white evangelicals didn’t coalesce en masse. They needed another, more digestible issue to “rally the base.” And so the single-issue, pro-life movement was born. Mind you, it wasn’t until SIX YEARS after Roe v. Wade that abortion was even mentioned as a political issue by christians.
In fact, before Roe many christians were silent on abortion, seeing it as a Catholic flag, while others were largely in favor of the decision to legalize abortion nationally. According to Prof. Randall Balmer at Dartmouth, well known fundamentalists like W.A. Criswell, the past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, were pleased with the ruling saying, “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.” IT WASN’T A THING IN ‘73!
IT WAS A MANUFACTURED ISSUE TO CHANGE THE IDEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE OF AMERICAN POLITICS IN RESPONSE TO THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT’S DISPLEASURE WITH DESEGREGATION.
Why is any of this relevant? Because these are the faces of the anti-abortion, pro-birth (these people aren’t pro-life) politicians of today. Weyrich and Falwell’s plan worked. They took racism, seasoned it with abortion to make it taste better, force-fed it to evangelicals all over the country and birthed a new baby by the same daddy – the conservative white male christian evangelical – who then swaddled it in misogyny.
Everything in this country manifests from racism by people who look like this and think with a white supremacist colonial settler mentality. When the penalty for aborting after rape is more severe than the penalty for rape itself, it’s not moral, it’s not spiritual, it’s not religious. It’s empire that dates back 400 years with the legislation of black enslaved bodies, and it’s not of God.
Neither are these men.