Midterms in the United States: Why abortion never gets old as a hot election topic | 2022 US Midterm Elections

Fifteen years ago, I had an abortion in the city of Fethiye in southwestern Turkey, where I had resided intermittently as part of my voluntary exile the United States. The procedure was performed in a gynecological clinic by a Turkish doctor who whistled, sang songs and joked about my lack of courage compared to his patients from surrounding villages – who he said came and went to his office without anesthesia or moaning. .

Although not music to the ears of the so-called “pro-life” crowd, the experience remains one of the highlights of my entire existence – which would no doubt have gone downhill quickly had I been forced to breed me against my will. .

If I had pursued abortion in the United States, extracting a drop of cells from my uterus would have involved a lot more bureaucracy, stigma, and money (and probably no wheezing). Still, I would have had it much easier than a poor woman, especially if she wasn’t white. Such, after all, is the nature of “equality”, “women’s rights” and similar empty concepts in which the United States specializes.

Indeed, in the self-proclaimed land of the free, reproductive freedom was never fully born; you could even say it was aborted.

In 1973, the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision ostensibly enshrined abortion rights nationwide, but there was still the problem of inequitable access. As renowned scholar Angela Davis noted in a 1982 article writingthe subsequent elimination of federal funding for abortions in 1977 resulted in an arrangement in which “black, Puerto Rican, Chicana, and Native American women, along with their poor white sisters, were … effectively denied the right to legal abortion” .

Free surgical sterilization was, however, always an option for the socio-economically oppressed – as was the option of adding another helpless human to a national landscape of racist, patriarchal capitalism and blatant state neglect. . How’s that for “pro-choice”?

Fast forward to the US midterm elections in November 2022, and abortion is once again a hot topic. In a capitalist patriarchy, controlling women’s bodies never gets old.

And candidates have a lot of material to work with. In June, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, removing the federal constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy and inducing a collective conservative orgasm. With abortion law now delegated to individual states, Wisconsin, for example, reinstated its 1849 abortion ban.

Democrats are betting on the abortion issue to boost voter turnout and retain control of Congress — which, if successful, would challenge the American political tradition that midterm elections are bad for the president’s party. Not that Democrats have done anything over the years to reverse the racism and classism that governs abortion politics and everything else in America. Usually what Democrats are good at is appearing less completely bonkers than Republicans, while dutifully helping to keep the whole heinous system going.

In some states, voters will weigh abortion rights directly on the ballot; in others, the vote on abortion will depend on the positions of the respective candidates. According to the Pew Research Center, 56% of registered voters said in August that abortion would be “very important in their midterm vote,” while only 43% said the same in March.

Of course, even before the June gutting of Roe v Wade, some US states had already implemented deranged anti-abortion policies. In September 2021, Texas took the initiative to ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, even for victims of rape and incest, and to allow individuals to sue anyone suspected of having in any way encouraged an abortion after the six-week delay, including Uber Drivers.

In Oklahoma in October 2021, a 21-year-old Native American woman named Brittney Poolaw was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison for miscarriage. The criminal hypocrisy of the conviction was underscored by the story of Oklahoma, you know, literally slaughtering Native Americans.

And yet, the Poolaw case highlights some of the practical sociopolitical functions of “pro-lifeism” in the neoliberal dystopia that passes for life in the United States.

Since equality for all humans would obviously thwart the system of elite tyranny that the United States calls “democracy,” a hierarchy must be maintained at all costs. Criminalizing women’s reproductive freedoms is a pretty good way to deprive a substantial portion of the population of power and agency.

Even better when the burden falls disproportionately on poor minorities, reinforcing and perpetuating the marginalized status of the ‘have-nots’, without which the ‘haves’ cannot have so much. Even better, miscarriages can also be criminalized. Why not criminalize menopause?

Predictably, the 2022 midterms provided fertile ground for all sorts of campaign abominations, such as Utah State Senate Republican candidate Linda Paulson.rapsong. In it, she cries out against abortion rights and praises guns and the police, displaying the typical illogicality of an American right that only cares about “life.” when it doesn’t involve real people being shot and killed by police.

It also appeals to God, on whom, in the blessed kingdom of conservative America, can generally be relied upon to provide fundamentally unethical politics with a facade of justice.

In Virginia, Republican congressional candidate and anti-abortion rights supporter Yesli Vega went on record earlier this year, expressing her belief in the plausibility of a theory that rape does not lead to pregnancy. At a rally in Vega on Oct. 24, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his father Rafael Cruz, a former Cuban Protestant preacher, warned voters of potentially apocalyptic repercussions if Vega is not elected.

Elder Cruz predicted that “if we lose this election, America is destroyed.”

It doesn’t matter that America is already destroyed and the ruling elite – of both major parties – has no real interest in fixing it. And while things have never been good on the abortion front, we certainly don’t need them to get any worse.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

Jessica C. Bell