Science fiction sometimes deals with the concept of traveling backward in time. But, in real life, it looks as though western civilization is truly shifting backward in time, in terms of the basic human rights of women.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade gave women the most basic right of all: the right to control their own bodies. Public opinion remains pretty solidly opposed in the U.S. to any outright ban on abortion rights. But, if present trends continue, it looks as though the right of choice may suffer the death of a thousand cuts. Reactionary forces bent on shifting the country back through time to the 1950's on women's rights are again using underhanded, sideward legislative attacks to slowly but surely whittle down a woman's right to abort an unwanted pregnancy. Texas has been one of the main battlegrounds in this ongoing war of attrition of late. Now, Michigan has become the next battlefield where women's rights have suffered a defeat.
Ironically, in a time when the country is hotly debating insurance coverage, a new restrictive anti-abortion law passed by the Michigan State Senate uses insurance coverage rules as a weapon against a woman's right of choice. Under this new law, a woman must purchase her abortion coverage under a separate rider, but is not allowed to do so if she's already pregnant. (So much for the conservative battle-cry of not letting big government interfere with our insurance choices!) So, basically, if a woman's just been raped and impregnated, she's out of luck unless she already bought a rider she would not have otherwise needed. Just the latest in a parade of utterly unscrupulous tactics for taking down a woman's right to choose, not with an axe, but with tweezers. The conservatives know they can't win this fight in a fair stand-up vote, so they hope to sneak in their anti-freedom agenda an inch at a time.
So, what is the end-goal of this anti-choice crusade? What do the conservatives ultimately want the U.S. to look like? Well, perhaps much like El Salvador does today. What is little reported in the U.S. media is that El Salvador currently has one of the most brutal and draconian anti-abortion laws in history. Women in that country are currently being imprisoned for years on charges of "aggravated murder", if they so much as suffer a miscarriage which the authorities consider "suspicious." Once incarcerated, they are subject to beatings and severe abuse. Abortion has been banned without exception in El Salvador since 1997. (Those of us old enough to remember the 1980's remember Ronald Reagan's merry death squads in Central America, his support of right wing butchers in El Salvador, all in the name of freedom. Look how wonderfully that all turned out.)
This cruel turn against women's rights in El Salvador is largely reflective of a general rightward shift in a largely Roman Catholic society. The anti-choice group Si ala Vida (Yes to Life) in alliance with the ruling ARENA party has played a large role in shaping public opinion in a severely anti-choice direction. (Ironic that a group so concerned with the sanctity of life should ally itself with the right-wing coalition ARENA, founded by the infamous war criminal and mass murderer Roberto, "Blowtorch Bob" D'Aubuisson, mastermind of the assassination of famed human rights defender Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980.) The Salvadoran Bishop Miguel Moran Aquino justified the anti-choice policy this way: "We cannot accept any law that goes against life. It is not a question of faith and religion, but of humanity."
The sincerity of Bishop Aquino's pro-life statement must be called into question by another statement the Bishop made, in explaining to western journalists that he interpreted the current conservative shift in El Salvador a back-lash against feminist groups and their efforts to impose what he termed liberal social legislation counter to Salvadoran culture: "They want to promote therapeutic abortion. This would open the window to other kinds of abortions, then same-sex marriage and adopting children by homosexuals or lesbians."
Clearly, it's not about the sanctity of life. It's about power, fear and hate. Power of men over women, fear of progress and hate of those who are different. That's the heart and soul of the rightward shift in western civilization which masquerades behind hypocritical fig-leaf slogans of "pro-life" and "godliness." What is pro-life about a culture that slaughters thousands with predator drones? What is godly or Christian about a culture where crowds howl like savages outside death houses in gleeful anticipation of executions? Those who call themselves godly and pro-life are often the same people who blow up abortion clinics, kill abortion doctors and slaughter gays and lesbians however they can. Oh sure, the public disavows support for such extremism. But, put it into law, if only little by little, and they'll howl in support of that, too. If conservatives got their way, homosexuals, women accused of abortion, illegal immigrants, the racially impure... any one who doesn't fit in with their simplistic, colorless view of life would be quietly exterminated, all in the name of godliness and pro-life.
No, it wouldn't be done openly. The laws that permitted it would come about only slowly, bit by bit and from a dozen crooked angles. As it was in Germany once upon a time... no one would notice. Because, no one would want to.