Jamala Rogers

I told you some years ago that these conservative folks would make being a “gleam in yo’ daddy’s eye” the start of conception. Fast forward and we see the aggressive attack on abortion rights by Republican lawbreakers. Several southern states have just passed “heartbeat” laws, a draconian measure that culminates a multi-faceted strategy to slam dunk the 14th Amendment in the trash bin of U.S. history.

Southern states – including Missouri – have made abortions illegal at six and eight weeks. Alabama’s governor just signed the harshest legislature yet. It makes abortion a felony regardless of circumstances like rape or incest.

We know this is not about the sanctity of life. Most of these legislatures have ignored life-saving programs by killing any proposed legislation or de-funding programs.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson jubilantly looks forward to signing the anti-abortion bill passed by his GOP posse. Parson claims he wants to make Missouri “one of the strongest pro-life states in the country.” Being pro-life does not begin and end with abortion. When it comes to health and well-being indicators of all Missouri citizens, this state is often at the bottom. Deal with that, Mr. Governor.

Alabama needs to be addressing its murderous conditions in its dungeons called prisons. The Department of Justice has spotlighted the inhumane and unconstitutional conditions in the state’s prison system. Its detailed report outlines cases of inmate deaths, suicides, rapes, extortion of the families of prisoners, and rampant contraband weapons and drugs—with prison guards leading the lawlessness. For the second time in modern history, the DOJ is threatening to take over the corrupt and lethal prison system.

Over the years, the religious right and other conservative forces have used three basic tactics to get to the destruction of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court case in 1973 where the ruling was based on the 14th Amendment.

One of those tactics is to constantly chip away at the law on the state level. For the last couple of decades, anti-choice legislation has been at the top of the Republican’s state and federal agendas.  There was not a wholesale attack due to the public’s overwhelming support of a women’s right to choose. With Trump in office, all that’s about civil and human rights have become a punching bag.

The above tactic included defunding of abortion clinics, including clinics like Planned Parenthood that provide a host of services; abortions make up about three percent of its services.

Another tactic is the fear whip. Women seeking abortion services often must pass through a double line of shoutin’, shamin’ anti-abortion protestors. For graphic effect, some hold gigantic posters of mutilated fetuses. Clinics, doctors, other medical personnel and innocent bystanders literally have bull’s eyes on their backs. Since the legalization of abortion, extremists have resorted to arson, stabbings, shootings, stalking, and bombings to get their way.

Dr. George Tiller was one of the few doctors in the country to perform late-term abortions. He was harassed and threatened for years. Then he was assassinated in his church – not at his clinic. The closing of his clinic soon followed.

These effective tactics have led to a dramatic drop in the number of abortion services. Missouri now has only one facility, and that’s Planned Parenthood in St. Louis.

The anti-abortion army is not just white zealots, although many white men are the public face of that movement. There are also misguided blacks who cry genocide every so often. The last cry was met with the “Trust Black Women” campaign spearheaded by women of color groups who fight for reproductive justice.

The most lethal tactic that the right is gunning for is getting Roe v. Wade before the conservative U.S. Supreme Court where the hope is that it will be overturned once and for all.

As a black, voting woman, I have serious concerns about my right to exist as a free citizen with all the protected fundamental rights including the power over my own body.

Stand up and join the movements to support women and to protect reproductive rights. There will be plenty of rallies nationally, but we need to develop some effective counter tactics that make our demands real. The institutions created to protect those rights must be held accountable.

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