Roe vs Wade was officially abolished last Friday. Almost 50 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to have an abortion was protected by the Constitution of the United States. Now that Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood vs Casey are gone, abortion can be outright banned in several states. 13 US states are already moving to immediately ban abortion after the SCOTUS ruling, while several more states could either eventually ban abortion later or just impose stricter legal restrictions. For millions of people, it will be impossible to get an abortion without unsafe backdoor procedures. Countless people will die as a result of botched abortion procedures or having to carry ectopic pregnancies. Many more will have to suffer being forced to carry a baby conceived by someone who raped them.
This oppressive reality represents the unambiguous destruction of the reproductive rights of millions of people, and is the fulfillment of a concerted assault against them and of anti-abortion politics. Those who contented themselves with a sort libertarian halfway house position on abortion – in which one has a confused moral aversion to abortion while nonetheless opposing criminalisation on the grounds of personal freedom and harm reduction – should find themselves disabused of the ability to content themselves with such a weak position. To seriously care about freedom is to oppose criminalisation completely and entirely, and endorse full bodily autonomy on principle and without qualification. The simple truth is that it really is either this or you want the state to control that autonomy, and thus undermine the whole premise of individual liberty. Even “moderate” restrictions of abortion, whereby it is banned after some ultimately arbitrary period of time has passed, is still an unjust restriction of individual liberty in this sense. And the fact is, giving even a fraction of an inch to the anti-abortion crowd is, in reality, lending support to a kind of fascist biopolitics. Look at Mary Miller declaring that the SCOTUS ruling is a victory for “white life”, look at self-described traditionalist Christians angrily denouncing pro-choice women as “blood libelous bitches”, and look at the contingent of left-wing anti-abortion figures who clutch their pearls at their imagined “rootless society”.
But if all of this was bad enough on its own, there’s more and worse to come. It is increasingly clear that, in a larger sense, the abolition of Roe v Wade will not only affect the right to an abortion. We know that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that the Supreme Court should “reconsider” all substantive due process precedents. This includes Griswold vs Connecticut, Lawrence vs Texas, and Obergefell vs Hodges. Griswold vs Connecticut is the ruling that established the constitutional right of married couples, and later all couples, to buy and use contraceptives. Yes, you heard me: until 1965, it was illegal in some US states to buy, sell, and use contraceptives. Lawrence vs Texas established that laws against same-sex intercourse were unconstitutional. Until 2003, there were “anti-sodomy” laws all over the USA, that so-called “land of the free”. Obergefell vs Hodges established that same sex marriage was a fundamental right protected by the constitution, and that all states were required to recognise same sex marriages as a fulfilment of that right. This means that the Supreme Court could ensure that contraceptives, same sex marriage, and even same sex intimacy all become illegal again in several US states. Incidentally, right before Roe vs Wade was abolished, the Supreme Court also ruled in Vega vs Tekoh that police officers can no longer be sued for violating your rights during your arrest or a criminal trial, even if you were found not guilty of any crime.
In addition to all of this, after Roe vs Wade was abolished, conservative politicians have already begun publicly calling for more SCOTUS “reconsiderations” over the weekend and well before that. Republican Senator John Cornyn said that the Supreme Court should move to reconsider Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka. Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka was the ruling that established that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. “Reconsidering” this, on Cornyn’s terms, could mean the revival of racial segregation. In March this year, Senator Mike Braun suggested that interracial marriage should be left to individual states to decide on, which would mean that Loving vs Virginia would be overturned and it would be possible that interracial marriage could become illegal in some states. The Texas GOP recently released a platform that called for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that prevent non-white Americans from voting, while also attacking homosexuality.
What we’re looking at is the culmination of a decades-long agenda by American conservatives to roll back almost every gain made for the advancement of freedom for women, LGBTQ people, and non-white Americans, and really any American who does not conform to the expectations of their desired theocratic Christian Nationalist society. Clarence Thomas himself is a member of the Federalist Society, which was set up to promote right-wing ideas in elite college campuses and then funnel right-wing lawyers to affect their ideology through the Supreme Court. In fact, all current Republican SCOTUS justices, with the possible exception of John Roberts, are or have been members of this same Federalist Society, and they were pivotal to the legal make-up of the last couple of Republican administrations. To fulfill this decades-long right-wing agenda, all federal protections for abortion, same-sex marriage and intimacy, trans and queer people, racial equality, and universal democratic suffrage/franchise, will all be abolished, which will allow Republicans to turn as many states as they can into theocratic, biopolitically-controlled fascist states. The very move to abolish Roe vs Wade seems to have been motivated partially by concern over a “domestic supply of infants”. And it will be enforced through repressive violence, even if Democrats get elected. The Supreme Court building had snipers on the roofs before protesters could even throw the first fist or have the first club lobbed at them, peaceful protesters demonstrating for abortion rights were mercilessly beaten by police officers over the weekend, and troops of armoured and militarized cops were seen patrolling Washington DC in full anticipation of protests. At this point it’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that fascism is increasingly incipient in the United States of America.
So, besides the ramifications I already talked about, what does all of this mean? To me, it means a lot of harsh conclusions and a bitter struggle. I hope it makes clear to more and more people that world-historic progress is a myth, and that you cannot expect the world to “arc towards justice” as President Joe Biden said in his inauguration speech. In fact, in the context of US history, the rights that the Supreme Court established might well be a pause in what is otherwise the domination of patriarchal white supremacy in the context of an authoritarian society. That is, unless those rights are relentlessly fought for by those who demand them. That’s the other side of this. When we say rights, we mean to establish liberty in our own jurisprudence. The repression of this freedom is, as well, the establishment of a different jurisprudence by a given extant authority. Freedom cannot be granted, it must be taken and/or fought for. History, progress, fate, God, the state, none of them will ever win liberty for you.
Staying on world-historic progress as a theme, I find myself annoyed by frequent pronouncements by progressives and others that the developments we’re seeing represent some return to the Middle Ages. America is not going back to the Middle Ages. It’s going back to the 1970s at the most recent, and to the 19th century at the furthest. For one thing, I cannot stress enough that all of the rulings being “reconsidered” addressed social conditions that persisted all through the tailend of the 20th century, though often did base themselves on 19th century laws. That means that the repressive nightmare we’re looking at is nowhere near as distant from living memory as the Dark Age America trope would have us believe. For another thing, the entire concept that life “begins at conception” as advanced by the anti-abortion movement has seemingly no evident basis in medieval theology, and is instead the product of 19th century Catholic theology and the then-contemporary secular medical establishment. Until then, Catholic theology had long established that a human fetus was not immediately ensouled before what was called the “quickening”. While abortion in itself was still legally restricted by medieval society, it was specifically punished if performed after the “quickening”, whereas pre-“quickening” abortions weren’t punished and were not considered murder. And of course, well before Christianity, abortion was not generally regarded as a homicide. There are several pre-modern texts regarding abortion practice, abortifacients were widely produced and procured for use, any legal punishment for abortion was not for murdering a fetus but for doing it against the wishes of the husband, and the whole “quickening” argument itself comes from Aristotle, who was most definitely not the only classical or ancient philosopher to reject the modern anti-choice argument. If anything it was the Enlightenment that “progressed” towards greater and more absolute restrictions of reproductive freedom. Meanwhile, the fascist biopolitics of the anti-abortion movement is inherent an expression of right-wing belief in reproductive futurity as applied to whiteness. Almost nothing expresses this more clearly than the infamous white supremacist fourteen words, which end with “a future for white children”.
But enough about that. What do we do about it all? Well, even if America insists on keeping its brand of capitalist federal democracy, I think that, at the barest minimum, the Supreme Court must be abolished. I will not be satisfied by the court being stacked, expanded, or rearranged by Democrats. Only the complete abolition of the Supreme Court will suffice – again, at the bare minimum. And it’s not just because they’re doing conservative rulings, but because this is where the investiture of jurisprudence in a handful of unelected judges to decide or affect the fate of everyone else leads to. The core concept of the Supreme Court is frankly absurd and obscene! Though, I suppose, one can make similar objections to the state itself – I would agree and advance that objection as well. But then while it sounds radical it still isn’t enough, hence “bare minimum”. While we would abolish that institution, we might still have to deal with the course of fascism now in motion, and Americans would still have to contend with the sovereignty of the federal government, and a Democratic Party that has shown, time and again, that it cannot be relied upon not make any meaningful and desirable reforms. In fact, the advance of fascism will ultimately taken as reason for the Democratic Party to insist that progressive policy ambitions be set aside for the “more immediate” goal of opposing either Donald Trump, his successor, or more generally the increasingly fascist Republican Party, thus ensuring a cycle in which reform is sidelined for the sake of party unity against the far-right, and American progressives will ultimately acquiese. It is for this reason that people like Bernie Sanders, or really any of the progressive Democrats, are ultimately unreliable.
I think that American radicals should take seriously the idea that direct action is the only way to overcome the present conditions. This is meant on revolutionary or even insurrectionary terms. Violence is the reality of the power being exercised in the jurisprudence of the establishment, and it is also the reality of the overcoming of this jurisprudence in pursuit of liberation. I have some reason to believe that a lot of American anti-fascists are indeed taking this seriously. But even if it is insisted that this is a step too far, the least that should be expected is the relentless activist disruption of the activities of the Supreme Court and the right-wing functionaries of the US state and the anti-abortion agenda. If the point is not to simply get rid of them, as would be much better for everyone, then at minimum it should be as hellishly difficult as possible for the bastards to keep doing what they want to do. If Democrats made it a point to do things like codify Roe vs Wade or went full force in campaigning for unrestricted reproductive freedoms, then even if they’re never going to be enough that would still genuinely do some good. But they can’t be relied upon. Already the best that the Democratic establishment has to offer is telling people to go vote for Democrats and admonishing people for not protesting peacefully enough. As if the American state “deserves” peace after attacking the freedoms of millions of people! I seriously think that the right course involves preparedness for, and will to, the total dismantling of the complex of American political and societal institutions as the only path out of the cycle that America is in. In other words, make total destroy.
But of course, to conclude this article, there’s the matter of what this means for our little world, for our communities. Obviously, I think that we should align ourselves with exactly that struggle of destruction and negation. Even if one cannot wage the fight, at least stand by those who will. Groups like Jane’s Revenge and all the black blocs looking to take up the fight should be supported unequivocally, while the liberals and reformists who want to stand in their way should be unreservedly opposed. Oh, and any opportunists no matter how “revolutionary” seeking to co-opt their efforts should be obstructed and humiliated for their attempts. In the meantime though, at the very least it is still important to support groups and individuals that make concrete material gains in providing or protecting access to abortion however possible. But don’t just accept anyone who presents themselves to be on your side as allies. Groups like the Boogaloo Bois, who present themselves as anti-government anarchists but are actually neo-fascists, should be opposed, and groups like The Satanic Temple, who present themselves as a beacon for reproductive rights while failing to do anything substantive for that cause and refusing to heed expert criticism on their practice, should also be rejected. We should also reject any and all responses to the abolition of Roe vs Wade that seek to reframe the carceral power of patriarchy as something that can be turned back around just to prove a point. Every liberal calling for “sex strikes”, joking about “mandatory vascectomies”, or complaining about how if men could abort we would have free abortion, all languish in erroneous and futile hypocrisy arguments, ignore the racist and eugenicist history of actual mandatory vascetomy policies, ignore the problems that they actually pose for women, and ultimately ignore transness and queerness. In fact, I am willing to go so far as to say that such hot takes are the result of an “unqueered” perspective on reproductive rights and the carceral state – that is, a perspective that is not informed by a critical understanding of queerness. For Satanists and Pagans, the nature and stakes of the struggle at hand is clear: Christian theocracy and authoritarianism is asserting itself once more, and it must be fought to the last.
If only one thing is to be made clear and internalised, it’s that America is not the “land of the free”. How could it ever claim to be, when love itself has been restricted and oppressed for so long and will be oppressed again? The only freedom that will exist in America, or anywhere, is that which is taken or fought for. And don’t ever think that you can’t do it. The Republicans by now know that almost nothing is politically impossible as long as you have the will to enact and fight for it. Charlie Kirk outright said it. Nothing is impossible for conservatives, and the abolition of Roe vs Wade under a Democratic government has shown them that. Nothing should be impossible for American radicals either. If after decades and even under a Democratic administration conservatives can succeed in turning the United States of America into a collection of fascist states, I don’t see why it’s impossible to tear their whole society down and replace it with only the void of ungovernable liberty.
Oh and just to say it right at the end: abortion is not murder. You’re just terminating an amalgamation of unconscious cells, not a lifeform in any meaningful sense. The idea that life “begins at conception” has no basis in science, philosophy, or theology, and is basically an entirely ideological moral claim. There is no credible justification for any restriction of liberty or bodily autonomy in this domain, and undermining bodily autonomy is ultimately to undermine liberty itself. On this basis, any efforts to either ban or simply restrict abortion in any country must be uncompromisingly opposed.
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