Our Descent Into Dystopia

By Dr. Sarah Hanisko

The opinions in this post are my own, and do not reflect any thoughts or opinions of anyone else.

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It’s not often I publish two blog posts in one day. But considering the events of the day, I didn’t want this to wait until tomorrow.

I’ve been contemplating writing this post all day. Then, I saw that Alabama’s (old, white, female) governor signed the most restrictive abortion law in the United States and I knew I couldn’t keep politics off my blog anymore. This is a blog about parenting, so I didn’t want to have to bring it here, but now we must.

I’m a student of history. I’ve studied World War II and know what happens when we blame others for our problems (ghettos, concentration camps, and death.)

I’m a student of literature. I’ve read all the wonderful, dystopian novels I was supposed to in high school (1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale, and more.)

I know enough to see where this is headed if we don’t spot the descent into darkness now.

First let’s talk some facts. Miscarriage affect one in every four women with the highest risk being between 4-6 weeks. 80% of miscarriages occur in the first trimester (0-13 weeks.) After 20 weeks, a miscarriage is considered a stillbirth.  (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322634.php) At 6 weeks you can usually detect a heartbeat on an ultrasound.

Alabama (or Talibama) has now made it illegal to perform abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. The law only allows for exceptions if the mother’s health is in danger. This means young children who are raped will be forced to carry their rapist’s child to term, and in some cases these men will get custody of those children.  See this article for more information on that lovely gem (https://nypost.com/2017/10/09/convicted-rapist-gets-joint-custody-of-victims-child/).

Women who miscarry in Georgia, could be investigated for murder under this new law. (https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a27454956/what-does-georgias-abortion-law-mean-women-who-miscarry/) Now, in my experience most women who miscarry are generally traumatized by the loss. So now we’re going to traumatize them even more by investigating them for murder. Why? The HB 481 Law states that a fetus should be treated as full person from the moment of conception and that they deserve full legal recognition.

What about the women who are pregnant in prison? We’re holding that woman’s fully legally recognized fetus (or child) in prison?

Let’s also take a moment to think about who this law will affect the most. Poor women, women of color. Intersectional feminism reminds us that poor women of color will be affected most adversely.

Ok, we’ve talked about the laws. Let’s talk about being pro-life.

I’ve always loved Sister Joan Chittister (a Benedictine Nun’s) view on being pro-life:

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born, but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life, that’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

Let’s have that discussion. Being pro-life means, you oppose the death penalty, you oppose for profit prison systems, you oppose the systemic racism that was built into each and every one of our countries systems, education, politics, criminal justice, tax systems, gerrymandering. Every single one.

Being pro-life means, you are pro-immigrant and refugee, that you invite them into your world with open arms  to create a means of living that supports life. Being pro-life means, you care for the homeless drug addict you see sleeping a park bench, not moving the local homeless shelter as far away as possible from your own homes.

Being pro-life means, you support free or low-cost pre-and post-natal care for women. It means you support low-cost childcare, enforcing child support payments, and other forms of social, mental, emotional, and physical support.  It means you vaccinate your children so that those who cannot vaccinate for serious medical reasons don’t die because a disease was almost eradicated appears again.

I’m sure I’ve left a million things out about what being pro-life means. And the MEN passing these laws are not pro-life.

I imagine they envision the reality of The Handmaid’s Tale of Gilead coming to pass. They imagine a world where books are burned, and you’re punished for reading, in the shadow of Fahrenheit 451. They imagine a world where you are tortured, like Winston Smith, for not going along with Big Brother.

They imagine a world where refugee children are separated from their families and given to others. Where racists once again take to the streets and create fear because of their hate. They imagine a world where women once again have to rely on the cut-wife to end an unwanted pregnancy or are investigated for murder when they miscarry a child they want.

Is this the future we want for our daughters? Because this is how it begins.