Arkansas Now Has the Most Restrictive Abortion Law in the US

[Content Note: Hostility to agency and choice; references to genocide.]

The war on agency just got really fucking ugly in Arkansas:
In the sharpest challenge yet to Roe v. Wade, Arkansas adopted Wednesday what is by far the country's most restrictive ban on abortion, at 12 weeks of pregnancy, around the time that a fetal heartbeat can be detected by abdominal ultrasound.

The law was passed by the newly Republican-controlled legislature over the veto of Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, who called it "blatantly unconstitutional." On Tuesday the state Senate voted to override his veto by a vote of 20 to 14; on Wednesday the House enacted the bill into law by a vote of 55 to 33, with several Democrats joining the Republican majority.

The law contradicts the limit established by Supreme Court decisions, which give women a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy, and abortion rights groups promised a quick lawsuit to block it.

Adoption of the law, called the "Human Heartbeat Protection Act," is the first statewide victory for a restless emerging faction within the anti-abortion movement that has lost patience with the incremental whittling away at abortion rights — the strategy of established groups like National Right to Life and the Catholic Church while they wait for a more sympathetic Supreme Court.

"When is enough enough?" asked the bill's sponsor in the legislature, Senator Jason Rapert, a 40-year-old Republican and conservative Christian, who compared the more than 50 million abortions in the United States since Roe v. Wade, in 1973, to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. "It's time to take a stand."

...The center and the American Civil Liberties Union have vowed to swiftly bring a case in federal court, aiming to head off the law before it takes effect 90 days after the legislature disbands in the next month or so.
For shits and grimaces, I will, for a moment, entertain Rapert's ostensible premise that a fetus has the equivalent value of the born uterus-having person carrying it. Great. So what? My life, right now, is not so precious that any other human being could be compelled to use their body to support mine for the next nine months (at least). No other human being is obliged to give up an organ for me, even if it would save my life. Nor bone marrow, nor blood, nor skin. People who are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term are being asked to do something no other people are asked to do for another person, which exposes the truth of the anti-choice position: Fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them.

Here's the other thing: We institutionally value lives differently, some more than others, all the time. We value lives of US citizens more than the lives of non-USians. We value the lives of inmates less than the lives of the free population (among whom are many highly-rewarded perpetrators of white-collar crimes). We value the lives of the wealthy more than the poor. We value the lives of people we allow to live without healthcare access less than the lives of those who by fate or fortune have health insurance. And these are only the valuations that can and do routinely mean a visible difference between life and death.

Which is to say nothing of all the kyriarchal valuations of lives that have repercussions small and large and sometimes deadly, too.

(We also wisely value some lives over others for complex reasons, like the life of the highly-protected US President over the life of an average citizen.)

But the people who are in the seats of power that legislatively prioritize US, supposedly law-abiding, wealthy, healthcare-having lives over others are largely very privileged men. And we are expected to understand that their agreement to globally prioritize their own lives over everyone else's is Moral Values, and an individual woman's choice to value her life over a fetus is murder.

Even conceding Rapert's alleged frame, he's still totally fucking wrong.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus