Flowers: It’s insulting to compare the Taliban to Texas pro-lifers
As expected, everyone’s apoplectic about the Supreme Court’s decision not to block the Texas abortion law.
It’s no secret I have been advocating for the criminalization of abortion for decades. Many people disagree with me, and that’s okay. It’s a controversial topic, and there really is no common ground, despite what the peacemakers try and argue. And I fully admit that the Texas law is extreme and novel, to the extent that it allows private parties to enforce it. Revolutionary, in its own way, and it remains to be seen if it passes constitutional muster.
What I want to focus on is the strange hypocrisy that rears its head up every time we discuss abortion rights, something particularly notable today as we deal with the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
For over 25 years, I’ve been practicing immigration law. For the last 15 or so, my practice has seen a significant uptick in asylum cases, a large percentage of which involve women who have been the victims of violence. Some of that violence has been at the hands of family members, and some of it has been institutional. Lately, I’ve seen a number of women who were abused by their partners and the police did nothing to protect them. That’s very common in Central America.
But then you have the most horrific situations, namely, when it’s the government itself doing the persecution. That is more likely to happen in countries that adhere to a perverse and draconian version of religious dogma, usually sharia law. And many women who were fortunate enough to taste the freedoms and privileges of the west are now facing what I call “The Great Reversal,” plunging them back into a darkness they either never knew, or of which they only have vague memories.
I’m referring, of course, to Afghanistan, and the resurgence of the Taliban. My position on how the United States catalyzed “The Great Reversal” by its deliberate and poorly-planned withdrawal after 20 years is as well-known as my opposition to abortion. I’ve spent the last two weeks writing about it, lamenting its impact on American allies, on children, on U.S. citizens, and even on dogs.
But now is the time to highlight the most obvious and heartbreaking victims of all: The women. The Taliban wants them clothed in dark fabric, anonymous figures moving through the markets, the streets and all public venues. The Taliban wants to keep them from the dangerous enlightenment that comes from education, something for which Malala Yousafzai almost sacrificed her life. The Taliban wants to strip them of their right to own property, to work at jobs, to constitute human value before legal tribunals. This is no secret. These are facts documented in every official human rights report published over the last two decades.
And while the emancipated women of America did raise concerns about the threat to their Afghan sisters, they saved their greatest vitriol for Texas, the Supreme Court and those of us in the anti-abortion movement. Like clockwork, they were out in the streets holding placards with the same slogans I used to see as a child: “My Body, My Choice.” I always found that amusing, since more than one body was involved.
But I digress. The consistency of the movement in support of abortion rights is not the real problem. What matters to me is the lack of self-awareness of the women who see their foreign sisters standing on a precipice of social annihilation, and are more concerned because the women of one state in this great nation will only have six weeks within which to get an abortion.
There is this argument that most women don’t know they’re even pregnant within six weeks. I find that hard to believe, but even if that were the case, this law will make sure that women who demand reproductive autonomy will become even more vigilant about monitoring their reproductive health. And let’s remember that this law does have exceptions for the health of the mother, so the idea that women are being denied “health care” is a bit specious to say the least.
But beyond that, the suggestion that not being able to get an abortion is equivalent to not being considered human is offensive, and underlines the increasing radicalism of a movement that persists in seeing abortion as not just “health care,” but a mark of autonomy, humanity and equal citizenship.
I would hope that some of the people who are still on the fence saw this overreaction from the most extreme abortion advocates and realized that — even if they opposed laws as stringent as the one in Texas — they reject the narcissism of people who mistake a paper cut for an amputation.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.