Politics Analysis

The Far-Right's war against women in America

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2023 California 'March for Life' rally (Screenshot via YouTube)

Whether it be abortion law, birth control rights or sex education censorship, the Far-Right in the U.S. appears hell-bent on restricting the basic rights of women, Patrick Drennan writes.

MANY OF THE Far-Right are influenced by the so-called Great Replacement theory — a belief that “elites” are orchestrating the demise of white culture through immigration, feminism and LGBTQ+ rights.

The internet and social media have opened new channels for this previously marginalised form of expression. Right-wing news media and Far-Right politicians played a key role in making white nationalist ideas part of the national conversation. 

Dr Eviane Leidig, who has extensively studied the phenomenon, has declared

'The Far-Right movement is characterised by a preoccupation with nativism, extreme nationalism, and authoritarianism with a growing trend of organising around antifeminism and anti-Islam in the hopes of protecting the “good” (white) family.'

They are not purposely waging a war against women — they simply have strident nationalistic and religious values that often clash with women’s choices and their stances on the following issues seem out of touch with everyday Americans:

Abortion

Thousands of Republican women get abortions every year. In 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30 per cent of those who got an abortion voted for former President Trump.

Yet, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, which protected the right to abortion, 14 Republican states invoked six-week term limits – many women not even knowing they were pregnant at six weeks – and often ignored provisions for incest and rape.

IVF

Republicans then extrapolated this to all embryos, including those used in IVF (in vitro fertilisation).

On February 16, Alabama’s Republican-dominated State Court ruled that frozen embryos have the same rights as children and people can be held liable for destroying them in the Le Page/ Burdick-Aysenne v The Center for Reproductive Medicine case.

While it did not completely ban IVF, it created a legal headache for clinics and some pulled their services. Many Republicans nationwide quickly rushed to declare that this was not official GOP policy.

Yet, the legal precedent remains. On 12 June, the right-wing Southern Baptist Convention – which includes 50,000 churches – voted to approve a resolution condemning IVF.

Birth control

The anti-abortion movement extends its activism into anti-contraception advocacy. In 1965, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Griswold v Connecticut that legalised the use of contraception by married women.

However, after Roe v Wade was overturned, Republican Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas additionally wrote that 'in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell' — cases that, respectively, struck down bans on contraception, same-sex intercourse and same-sex marriage.

He deemed these decisions 'demonstrably erroneous'.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump said in an interview that he would be open to individual states limiting contraception access but backtracked soon afterwards. If elected, however, he could invoke the conservative Project 2025 blueprint, which includes proposals to require coverage of natural family planning methods and remove requirements that insurance covers certain emergency contraception.

Sex education

Sex education isn’t widespread in the U.S. and having sex tends to come with more consequences for a woman. Instead of providing comprehensive sex education for teens, religious and ultra-conservative Republicans have added restrictions in many states to prevent teachers from even covering sex education topics.

Books based on extensive scientific research on puberty such as It’s Perfectly Normal, Where Did I Come From? and What's Happening to My Body? have been banned at different stages.

The Far-Right does not represent all Republicans – certainly not all Republican women – but it does have a disproportionate influence over the GOP.

So, who are the Far-Right women who want to restrict the rights of other women?

Often it is white evangelical women who are highly motivated by a perceived sense of moral and national decline in the face of rapid social, cultural and demographic change. Far-Right politicians have fulfilled promises that matter to them — appointing conservative judges, increasing the likelihood of restrictions on federal abortion rights and reducing protections for transgender and LGBTQ+ people.

Many are born-again Evangelicals, who do not attend church but want a white saviour.

In Missouri, State Senator Mary Elizabeth Coleman, a Republican from Arnold, wants to change Missouri law to make Planned Parenthood ineligible to receive reimbursements from the state’s Medicaid program.

Women in Republican-run states like Texas, manage crisis pregnancy centres (CPC) that spread false information about abortion. Moms for Liberty, co-founded by Tiffany Justice, is a group that began as a small parents’ rights group but has spread across the U.S. and is a leading force in promoting book bans.

For these women, the question remains, How will your sister, daughter or best friend get sex education, birth control, safe abortions, or IVF if the right to access them is taken away?

Patrick Drennan is a journalist based in New Zealand, with a degree in American history and economics.

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