We all know that little ditty by the anti-Nazi Pastor Martin Niemöller’s, the one that begins, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist.” The majority of Americans may not have a zealous belief that every zygote is a full human being whose rights equal or exceed those of the owner of the womb it is growing in, but they may think the impending destruction of the right to an abortion in half or more of the American states has little to do with them if they don’t live in one of those states, and/or they are not women of childbearing age. This is a dreadful mistake, because the pending absolute bans on abortion cannot be made to work outside of a totalitarian police state, due to the legal methods by which they are being enacted and today’s technology.
Reproductive technology has advanced at a dizzying rate since 1973, when the Supreme Court gave women across the United States the right to an abortion, a right that the Trump Court, led by Angry White Man Sam and joined by Justices Handmaid, Beer, Nonesuch, and Lockjaw, is about to take away. Most obviously, there is Plan B (levonorgestrel), also known as the “morning-after pill.” It is available without a prescription at any drugstore in most states, except those that have banned it, like Texas, and it simply induces a woman’s body in the early stages of pregnancy to expel the fetus. What’s to stop a woman in a state poised to ban abortion, such as Missouri, from simply driving over the state line to pro-choice Illinois to buy the drug? Nothing, which is where the totalitarian controls come in. An anti-abortion zealot in Missouri is pushing a bill modeled on the Texas abortion-snitch law to allow any idle asshole to sue residents of other states in a Missouri court for helping a woman get an abortion. The idea is to effectively restrict a pregnant Missouri woman’s right to travel outside the state, as well as setting up a Texas-style universal vigilante system. Only in America would anyone have come up with the idea of privatizing the secret police. So efficient! Saves taxpayer money, and allows the state to wash its hands of all responsibility! But the result is that, like escaped slaves in pre-Civil War America, fugitive pregnant women who want an abortion are to be pursued wherever they go in the country.
I’ve pointed this out before, but it bears repeating: Laws like this will lead to a flood of litigation that will quickly bog down the courts in the states that enact them. To solve that problem, it will be necessary to create special courts, with Star Chamber-like rules of evidence, to railroad the “abortionists.” Or perhaps the rule of law will collapse entirely, which would only be a bonus to the MAGA fascists pushing this asinine but extremely dangerous idea. Once they restore Trump to power in ’24, with or more likely against the consent of the electorate, the whole idea will be taken national, with similar effects on the federal courts. Or perhaps a special federal police force will be set up if the universal-vigilante idea ends up being unworkable. What kinds of bedsheet-sniffing powers will these abortion cops have to have? For starters, unfettered access to the medical records of every single American woman of childbearing age (an age range much greater than in 1973), HIPAA be damned. What kinds of contraception were you using, ma’am? The Pill also contains levonorgestrel, so that will have to be banned too, with no-knock police raids on private homes to enforce it, just as in the War On DrugsTM.
Once the state has all those powers, it will find more and more reasons to use them. Did you buy a copy Toni Morrison’s Beloved, despite the disapproval of that rising MAGA Republican star, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin? The MAGA Stasi will obtain your Amazon book buying records, and if Jeff Bezos puts up any resistance, he’ll be dealt with the same way MAGA hero Vladimir Putin did with his “oligarch” political opponent, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
To paraphrase Pastor Niemöller, they are already coming for you, dear reader—and there is no one left to speak for you.