It laid the groundwork for the right’s crusade to enforce pregnancy with decades of false equivalence and mushy objectivity. It portrayed women-hating fanatics as a legitimate side in a debate. It credulously accepted right-wing senators’ excuses they were betrayed by Supreme Court nominees like Brett Kavanaugh who proclaimed Roe was settled law in the confirmation process. It treated propaganda as fact by using the term “pro-life” for a movement that is fundamentally against life.
But there is an even graver failing by the corporate media, its inability to connect the dots of the right’s war on women. The ruling against reproductive rights is linked to the Supreme Court’s ruling expanding the gun rights and the Jan. 6 coup attempt.
These three issues reveal different ways in which the right tries to violently subjugate women. Guns are the most common weapon used by men to intimidate or attack women, with about 800 women shot and killed by a current or former intimate partner every year.
By expanding concealed carry of guns, the Supreme Court will enable more violence by men toward women. It will also create more mass shooters, nearly two-thirds of whom have a history of domestic violence. Before killing 19 children and two teachers, the mass shooter in Uvalde, Texas, threatened girls online with “sexual assault, like rape and kidnapping,” as did Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz. The shooter who carried out a racist massacre in Buffalo mainly targeted Black women. The two deadliest mass shooters in American history, the Pulse Nightclub massacre, and the Las Vegas music festival killings, were violent toward women. Other mass shooters identify as “incels,” involuntary celibates, who seek to kill women.
However much the right claims it doesn’t support gun violence, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wasn’t fooled. He stated in his dissent that the Court “severely burdens” efforts to curb mass shooters. Republicans outright enable gun violence against women. The day after a mass shooter killed six Asian women in Atlanta, 172 Republicans in Congress voted against the Violence Against Women Act precisely because it placed restrictions on owning guns by those who had committed domestic violence.
Mass shooters and gun violence are a form of random, criminal violence against women. A second type of far-right violence against women is extralegal, but is more organized and is supported at the highest levels of the Republican Party, most notoriously by Trump. White supremacist gangs that spearheaded the failed January 6 coup are misogynist to their core. The Proud Boys are anti-women to their name and their slogan of “venerating the housewife,” a fascist fantasy of forcing women into domestic servitude.
Following their participation in the failed coup, the Proud Boys lowered their profile by inserting themselves into the anti-abortion movement, including harassing patients at reproductive health clinics. Violent extremists are flooding the anti-abortion movement, including “the white nationalist Aryan Nations and the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker party.” Far-right misogyny is inseparable with violence against the LGBTQ community, including recent threatening incidents by the Proud Boys and Patriot Front. Terrorizing women fits into their broader fascist plan to eliminate or oppress anyone who doesn’t fit into their vision of a white male Christian America, especially transgender people, immigrants, Muslims, and African-Americans.
Immediately after the Supreme Court struck down Roe, the Proud Boys and other extremists “celebrated” on social media by fantasizing about sexually assaulting and raping women, while others talked of burning crosses and brandishing concealed firearms to intimidate pregnant people.
Some far-right extremists invoked the Supreme Court decision on guns to threaten pro-choice activists, “It's a good thing the Supreme Court affirmed our right to conceal carry right before this ‘night of rage’ you guys are planning.”
In this context, banning abortion legalizes violence against women and anyone else capable of pregnancy. It is both the most mundane and extreme form of violence. Overturning Roe won’t end abortion. It will only end the possibility of medically safe, legal abortion for many. Before Roe, estimates of illegal abortions a year ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million. Annual deaths ranged from 2,700 a year in 1930 to “just under 200” by 1965.
But just as police killings of unarmed Black people are the tip of a racist criminal justice system, deaths from botched illegal abortions will be the tip of widespread harm to women’s health and anyone else who wants to terminate a pregnancy. The right has claimed for decades it would carve out exceptions for “rape or incest, or to save the life or health of the woman” if it succeeded in overturning Roe. But this was just another right-wing lie that the media swallowed.
Out of 41 abortion bans on the books at the state level, only 10 have exceptions for rape or incest. This means thousands of women will endure psychological trauma in being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Even when there are exceptions for health or rape, pregnant people will “face significant hurdles” in meeting requirements, and healthcare workers may balk at performing the procedure as they could face years in prison for an unauthorized abortion.
Those states at the forefront of banning abortions will unleash police and prosecutors to arrest, prosecute, and imprison anyone they allege sought an illegal abortion and those who helped them, even a driver taking them to an appointment. There is already a “pregnancy panopticon” at work employing an array of surveillance and digital tools to track anyone who is pregnant. It creates space for non-state actors like far-right extremists to harass, threaten, and snitch on anyone they decide may try to terminate a pregnancy.
As such, pro-choice activist pleas that “Women will die” misses the mark. Many women and pregnant people will die, and many thousands more will be physically and psychologically harmed by being forced to carry pregnancies to term.
The right wing isn’t indifferent to violence and death caused by abortion bans. It welcomes it. Women who die or are debilitated under the new anti-abortion regime will be dismissed as part of God’s plan, the natural order. Pregnant people who die or are harmed by illegal abortions will be blamed for their sinful actions.
The Republican Party is little more than a death cult, and they are eager to sacrifice women on their altar.