Revolution #98, August 19, 2007

“Just in case you don’t get it yet…”

Proposed Ohio Abortion Law Would Give Veto Power to the Male

Just in case you know someone who does not get it yet—someone who might not understand that the all-out and ongoing assault on a woman’s right to abortion is all about enslaving women to a system of patriarchal traditions backed up and enforced by the state—tell them about the new law before the Ohio state legislature.

The first week of August, a group of Ohio state legislators submitted a bill that would ban a woman from obtaining an abortion without the consent of the man who impregnated her. The proposal comes two weeks after Representative Tom Brinkman proposed a law that would ban all abortions in Ohio.

Supporters of the bill tout it as a measure that would give men “a say” in the abortion decision. In fact, it would give them veto power. If the bill is passed, women in violation of the law will be tried criminally for abortion fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor. Medical providers who perform abortions without the father’s consent would be similarly charged.

If that’s not patriarchal enough for you, the proposed law would also require women to provide a list of previous sexual partners in cases where the fetus' paternity was unknown! Abortion providers would then have to perform paternity tests.

This bill is being brought to you by legislators who have championed an extreme version of right-wing Christian ideology fanatically in opposition to the rights of women and gay people. Rep. Brinkman, for instance, started a group “Equal Rights Not Special Rights” that attempted to overturn a Cincinnati City Council vote to protect sexual and gender identity under the city’s human rights ordinance. The petitions were withdrawn after Brinkman admitted to fraudulently changing over 1000 addresses on the petition to make them valid. These Christian fascists who are introducing this kind of legislation in states all over the country have a worldview and practical agenda that wants to go back to the old days of Christian traditional morality—where women, in the words of the 13th-century theologian Thomas Aquinas, were “created to be man’s helpmate, but her unique role is in conception…since for other purposes men would be better assisted by other men.”

It’s not been that long since women were quite literally and legally the property of men. Under Common Law in England and in the Colonies, a man virtually owned his wife and children as he did his material possessions. If a poor man chose to send his children to the poor house, the mother was legally defenseless to protest. If a woman chose to leave her husband—her husband possessed custody of the children. Laws that allowed women to own their own property in their own names, and to divorce and obtain custody of their children, did not become law until the late 1800s. If these reactionary and outmoded political movements that are getting powerful backing in the highest offices of the land have their way, we’ll be “back to a future” that is even worse—where abortion, birth control, and divorce are banned. Where women are forced back from having achieved some hard-fought legal equality to legally enforced patriarchal rule that says a man’s rights over women and his children are what must be protected.

That is what is more than present in the proposed Ohio legislation, and the fact that it can even actually be introduced is a sign of how much fundamentalist lunacy is now considered legitimate political discourse by people who make laws. Just take a look at the twisted sense of morality being introduced in this proposed bill that would force a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy to turn over a list of all her sexual partners. Is it such a stretch to imagine that such a woman would figuratively if not literally have to bear a scarlet letter and the chains of religious iconography that goes back to the scriptural and puritanical view of Eve as the gate of the devil?

This is the kind of law and morality that serves the needs of an imperialist empire looking to cohere and cobble together social stability at a time where the basic workings of this system are tearing apart people’s lives. The promotion of religion in public life—whether it’s the extreme Christian fascist agenda of theocracy or the seemingly more benign but just as pernicious adoption of religious faith into politics by the leadership of the Democratic Party—has both ruling class parties shamelessly marinating speeches from immigration to the budget in Biblical terms. Nancy Pelosi, in a debate on increasing embryo research funding, said, “Science is a gift from God to all of us, and science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure.” This is the kind of defense of science and scientific research being made by the “opposition party.”

To those who still don’t get it: this is your future with an imperialist ruling class hooked on God. Compare that with the kind of future revolutionary communists are fighting to bring into being. In a future socialist society, law would be made and morality guided by the objective of bringing about the full emancipation of women and the liberation of science and imagination from the confines of profit and superstition.

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