House Passes 20-Week Abortion Ban

[Content Note: Hostility to agency.]

Last night, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, with exceptions for pregnancies as a result of rape or incest, but only if the crime is reported to law enforcement. The bill passed 228-196.

It has no chance of passing in the Democratically-controlled Senate, which has not even scheduled a vote on the legislation, and "the White House issued a veto threat Monday, calling the bill an 'assault on a woman's right to choose.'"

The passing of this bill in the House, and the attendant debate which preceded its passage, was all theater for the benefit of the Republican base. But it also matters, because the war on agency which has seen an unprecedented number of anti-choice pieces of legislation in state houses across the nation has now arrived on the federal level, empowering the anti-choice movement.

This is state-sponsored terrorism on behalf of an inherently violent ideology that values fetuses more highly than the people who carry them.

Will our President give a national address about the war on agency now, at long last, now that the House is passing legislation designed to chip away at Roe and render it an empty statute? Or is a statement from the White House all we're going to get?

I expect more.

I expect the ostensibly pro-choice Democratic leadership to get as involved in this fight as the anti-choice Republicans are. I expect national pro-choice legislators to use their platforms to change the conversation about choice, instead of hiding from the word abortion like it's a grave shame. I expect our President and his still overwhelmingly male party to stop treating the fight for reproductive rights like woman's work.

That this legislation has no chance of becoming law (right now) is good news. But this escalation in the war on agency is intolerable. Our national conversation still treats abortion like it's shameful, a "necessary evil," but the shame—the "evil," if you believe in that sort of thing—is a nation that refuses to trust women and other people with uteri, that refuses us our agency, that refuses us our autonomy, that refuses us decency.

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