What anti-abortion & anti-LGBTQ+ laws have in common

What anti-abortion & anti-LGBTQ+ laws have in common
Kim Gasper-Rabuck, left, and Maria Gaboury, right, stand next to each other and express opposing views on abortion in front of Planned Parenthood's Madison East clinic. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said on Feb. 13, 2024 that an anti-abortion campaign targeted people visited 600 Planned Parenthood locations around the country. Photo: © Ebony Cox / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK / USA TODAY NETWORK

France has just enshrined abortion rights in its Constitution. What’s wrong with the U.S.? 

It’s the collapse of the church into the affairs of the state. For example, the recent theology-ridden ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court justified giving personhood status to frozen IVF embryos as doing God’s will.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Parker wrote in the ruling that “human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God.” With this ruling, reproductive justice is thrown out the window. Women, girls, and people with the capacity for pregnancy in the state of Alabama have been relegated to human chattel and birthing incubators.

If you thought Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was a fictive dystopian novel, read it now as a survival guide. Because this ruling will have broader implications in the ongoing war on abortion.

When life ends at birth

Women, girls, and others with the capacity to give birth caught up in the pro-life battle are being told their lives don’t matter, nor does that of the child.

While Parker’s theocratic ruling takes his concepts of “pro-life” to a newer, more mean-spirited, and more punitive level, the label “pro-life” has always used religion to cloak the misogyny and transphobia of anti-abortion legislation.

For pro-life folks, the care for the fetus doesn’t extend beyond birth. Former gay congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) said for pro-lifers, “life begins at conception and ends at birth.” Studies have shown that unwanted children born in states or areas where there are abortion restrictions have much more challenging lives and often live in poverty. 

The Trump effect

The precursor to the recent Alabama decision was the landmark Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v Wade and took away Americans’ right to an abortion.

Before Roe was overturned in 2022, abortion was a fundamental right under the Constitution. This right afforded women, girls, and people with the capacity for pregnancy full citizenship along with the right to privacy and bodily autonomy.

But religion drove the Dobbs decision, which was influenced by conservative Catholic thinkers, theologians, and Supreme Court justices. 

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, justice wasn’t blind but rather biased. This is the effect of Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump nominated 274 conservative Republicans to federal benches (234 of whom were confirmed by the Senate) and three to the Supreme Court – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett – all of whom supported overturning Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court is currently comprised of six Catholics (5 of whom are pro-lifers), which account for two-thirds of its total number of justices. 

Religion as a means to control

Even before the Dobbs decision and the ruling in Alabam, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people struggled to access abortion due to health disparities. Women and girls, however, are not the only ones who need abortion care. Nonbinary people, intersex individuals, gender nonconforming folks, and trans men need abortion care, too. 

“I am a transgender man, which means that although I am a man, I was assigned female at birth, which means that I have a uterus, which means that I could get pregnant. Which means that I could need an abortion,” Schuyler Bailar, a transgender athlete and activist, told in 2021. “I am here to remind you to make it absolutely clear that people of all genders can have abortions, and people of all genders should have safe and legal access to abortions.” 

According to the 2023 Guttmacher Institute’s Abortion Patient Survey, 16 percent of U.S. abortion patients do not identify as heterosexual women.  

Using religion to codify discrimination against LGBTQ+ Americans began with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993 under the guise of religious freedom. In 2018, SCOTUS ruled in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in favor of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on the grounds of religious freedom.

Anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation go hand in hand because both are passed in the name of God. 

Reproductive justice is essential. SCOTUS shouldn’t decide what someone can do with their own body, and neither should the church. Perhaps the U.S. should take a page from France’s constitution. 

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