Women’s equality was not about getting equal pay for equal work. Not about getting mandatory family leave and affordable child care. Not about passing strict anti-discrimination laws in hiring practices.What was essential for social equality, according to those responsible for our abortion laws, was that women are able to end their pregnancies when they are a burden on their economic and social interests. But being pregnant and having a child is often so burdensome precisely because our social structures have been designed by and for people who cannot get pregnant. Notice how, in this context, our abortion laws end up serving the interests of men and coercing the so-called “choice” of women.Someone who is coerced into having an abortion as a means of having social equality should not be put in jail.
A right-wing anti-Trump website cites a 1989 survey showing that only 9% of professed anti-abortion people believe a woman should be punished for having abortions. The head of the March For Life organization argues against women's capacity for responsibility, arguing that they should not be held accountable for aborting because "women who choose abortion often do so in desperation." This desperation apparently makes women incapable of a morally or legally responsible choice -- especially if you buy the idea that evil abortionists and birth-control fanatics trick or brainwash women into choosing abortion. By this logic, people who purchase illegal drugs should not be prosecuted, since their addiction reduces them to a "desperate" state, but how many Republicans will follow the logic to that conclusion, especially when it isn't necessary to get votes. But if you see the belief that women who seek illegal abortions shouldn't be punished as illogical, then you may as well call yesterday's backlash against Trump by Republicans and pro-lifers what it seems to be: political correctness -- a reluctance to offend women based on a fear of electoral consequences. To make that clear, pro-choice women should use this moment to affirm their agency and responsibility when it comes to reproductive sovereignty, and to deny that they're dupes or victims of Planned Parenthood or the abortionists' union. They should say that even when abortion appears to be a matter of economic necessity, it remains a matter of moral responsibility that they accept for themselves, while doctors only implement their will. Let enough women say that, and we may start to hear something different from the right that probably comes closer to what they believe, or what Trump thought he believed.