The Rebel Girl: The Right’s Already-Born Victims

Against the Current, No. 94, September/October 2001

Catherine Sameh

RU-486 PATIENT HEALTH and Safety Act. Child Custody Protection Act. Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Sound suspicious? Well, they are. As paternalistically caring as they might sound, these right-wing driven pieces of legislation are the latest attempts to restrict abortion under the George W. Bush administration and, if passed, would only serve to harm the freedom and health of women.

Although RU-486 has finally been approved by the FDA after twelve years of safe use in Europe and extensive trials in the United States, anti-abortion opponents claim they want to protect the health and safety of American women with their bill. But their real panic is over the easing of access to abortion that RU-486 provides.

The Child Custody Protection Act would criminalize anyone other than the minor’s parent for helping her get an abortion in a state that doesn’t have parental notification laws. Far from “protecting children,” this law would endanger the lives of young women desperate for abortions by forcing them to go it alone rather than relying on friends or family members other than parents.

Perhaps the most preposterous and dangerous piece of proposed legislation is the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. While framed as intending to help pregnant women by penalizing any persons who harm them and subsequently their fetuses while committing a federal offense, this is a twisted attempt to grant fetuses the same legal status as women. Never mind that a pregnant woman might be hurt or killed, this is a clear attempt to prioritize the fetus. It has already passed the House of Representatives.

The right wing, including the Bush administration, has not let up on their attack. They are fanning the flames of ambivalence about abortion with their dangerous legislation, continued attacks on abortion doctors and their false piety about morality and ethics in science around the recent stem cell debate.

But morality is not the administration’s real concern, witness its “missile defense” budget, its funding of the Israeli war on the Palestinians, and its threat to boycott the U.N. World Conference Against Racism.

from ATC 94 (September/October 2001)