A sense of dread and impending doom

The end is racing at us so fast — we’ve been watching movies about the zombie apocalypse or handmaid’s tales, totally oblivious to what’s happening right here, right now. Michelle Goldberg warns us of the dangers of the anti-woman legislation sweeping various states.

…a lesson of fundamentalist regimes worldwide is that when reactionaries try to enforce their ideas about gender traditionalism, they can be more tyrannical than real tradition ever was. Granting personhood to fetuses has already enabled some states to subject women to new types of social control; as ProPublica reported, in 2014 a woman was arrested under Alabama’s “chemical endangerment of a child” statute for taking half a Valium while she was pregnant. Those who might be ambivalent about abortion should realize that these strictures can apply to them as well.

As we watch Donald Trump remake this country in ways that once seemed unimaginable, it’s tempting to reach for historical analogies to grapple with what’s happening. It’s why, as people struggle to understand how his abuses of power might be constrained, there’s been renewed interest in Watergate. Yet, as in the comparison between Richard Nixon and Trump, the past can prove inadequate to understanding the depredations of the present. Rather than moving backward, we’re charting awful new frontiers.

The new wave of oppression isn’t coming, it’s here, and it’s going to get worse.

Today I’m planning to make myself sick by attending the local showing of Unplanned, an event sponsored by conservative local churches. I expect to be surrounded by pious, ignorant hypocrites who will be angered by the lies on screen, for all the wrong reasons — not because they’re lies, but because they are religious absolutists who will praise anything that celebrates their ignorance, and will have their hatred of women and family planning confirmed. It’s going to be a bad afternoon. I’m going to have to sit there politely and quietly and harmlessly while wishing I could set the building on fire.

Then I’ll go home and read Robin Marty’s Handbook for a Post-Roe America, while the Democratic leadership dithers over everything.


  1. andiek712 says

    Do you know how scary this is for a woman — I’m not even an American and I’m freaking out. I’m Canadian, and yes, my right to choose is intact…so far. I’m worried that one of your idiots is going to give ideas to one of our idiots, and then my rights to control my own body will be in question, that once again women will have to fight for the same basic autonomy that every man enjoys. Pregnancy can be fatal — how can you ask someone to risk their very lives for what your belief in what an imaginary being wants? Not to mention having to deal with the physical, emotional, and financial concerns that come with forcing someone to go through with an unwanted pregnancy.

    But I’ve got a plan! There was a female member of the Alabama legislature who was against the ban who suggested we forbid men from having vasectomies so that they will know what it’s like to have laws made against what they can do with their bodies. Good sentiment, but she’s going the wrong way. I say we make vasectomies mandatory. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out. We get all males over a certain age to make as many donations to a sperm bank as they can manage in a set time, then they get immediate vasectomies. There are three good reasons for this: 1) men and women can enjoy sex all they want without having to worry about accidental pregnancies, and, while it won’t stop incest and rape, it will greatly lessen the chances of a woman being victimized once and then being victimized again by having to bear her attacker’s child, 2) since the only way to get pregnant is to go through a sperm bank, women will get to choose when they want to become pregnant, meaning women will welcome their pregnancies and every child will be wanted, and 3) vasectomies are cheaper and safer than forced pregnancies. Plus, male politicians will finally understand some of what women are talking about when saying they don’t like being told what to do with their bodies under penalty of law.

    Yes, it sounds extreme, but this whole issue is making me crazy. And I know it’s not perfect; vasectomies can spontaneously reverse from what I’ve heard, for instance, but a procedure that it takes a man a few days to recover from versus nine months of pain, misery, and risk of death for a woman, and then a lifelong commitment? Come on, guys! At least think about it!

  2. Nemo says

    All this shit is going to fail in court, and soon, and then electorally, and then the people behind it are going to die off.

  3. Rob Grigjanis says

    andiek712 @1: It doesn’t sound in the least crazy or extreme to me. Unfortunately, the crazy and extreme are in charge. With Doug Ford in Ontario, and Jason Kenney in Alberta, anything can happen. Not in the near future, maybe.

  4. alixmo says


    the Christian Right wants that women are as often pregnant as physically possible.

    Take e.g. the Catholic stance: 1.) People should only have sex when they are married and 2.) every time they have sex they should let “nature”, pardon, God, make the decision if that will lead to pregnancy or not. If at all, only the so called “natural or rhythm method” is allowed to limit one’s fertility – which is utter crap.

    The pattern is: no sex education + no reliable, modern contraceptives (which are already under attack as “abortifacients”) or even no contraceptives at all (the Vatican’s stance) + no legal abortion = adios emancipation, bye-bye equality, hello “traditional female role”.

    Look at the Philippines, and see how many children women have there, and how early they become mothers for the first time.

    That means: Not much time for pesky education, no competition to men on the job market, especially when it comes to well paying, qualified jobs. Women in eternal dependency.

    That seems to be the ideal of the traditionalist Christian Right.

  5. raven says

    The obvious parallel is Romania under Ceasescu.
    Ceasescu decided Romania needed more people so he adopted a forced birther policy by outlawing abortion and contraception.
    The result was a humanitarian disaster.

    .1. The birth rate initially went up and then went back down to what it was.
    People just learned how to evade the law one way or another.
    Depriving people of their rights and freedoms they once had is very hard.
    Lesson: People don’t like forced births and female slavery and they are smart and resourceful at pursuing their own life paths.

    .2. Then there was the Romanian Orphan crisis.
    People were forced to have children they didn’t want and couldn’t support.
    They gave them up to the State.
    Which also couldn’t afford to support them.
    The result was 1/2 million children growing up malnourished and deprived under truly appalling conditions.
    They never fully recovered and ended up struggling through their lives.

    Lesson: Hell doesn’t exist.
    The fundie xians keep trying to create a hell on earth though.
    Alabama is one step along that road.

  6. raven says

    Romania Orphan Crisis WIkipedia

    All children, including girls, had their heads shaved, which made it difficult to differentiate the children. Many children had delayed cognitive development, and many did not know how to feed themselves.[8] Physical needs were not met, as many children died for minor illness or injuries such as cataracts or anemia. Children also would starve to death. Physical injuries that had to do with development included fractures that had not healed right, resulting in deformed limbs.[8]

    Some children in the orphanages were infected with HIV/AIDS due to unsterilised instruments.[9] Overall, orphanages failed to meet even the most basic needs of the children.[9]

    You can bet something like this will happen in the USA.
    It already is happening.

    The state foster care systems are quite often badly funded and badly run.
    Children who end up there can and are abused in any way you can think of and ways that you can’t even imagine.
    “Roughly 1,600 children die each year due to abuse and neglect, the committee reported.”

  7. stroppy says

    “…the past can prove inadequate to understanding the depredations of the present. Rather than moving backward, we’re charting awful new frontiers.”

    Um yeah. Now, from the Guardian — 3.5%. Except we don’t live in that world anymore:
    Typical myopic slice of a situation. We’re now being subjected to more sophisticated “management.”

    70s bromides are well and good I guess, but at some point you’ll have to pry your eyes from your tired manifestos and catch up. Decades worth. Although… Ma Kettle may have been on to something.

    Multi-purpose tools.

  8. raven says

    Needless to say, we are approaching the era (again) of DIY abortions.
    Hmmm, well no.
    We are already here in the USA.

    .1. Most early abortions are medical, i.e. pills.
    “Common abortifacients used in performing medical abortions include mifepristone, which is typically used in conjunction with misoprostol in a two-step approach. Oxytocin is commonly used to induce abortion in the second or third trimester.”

    There is already a black market for these drugs in the USA due to state abortion restrictions.
    There is also a grey market via the internet.

    .2. Wikipedia Pennyroyal
    The pennyroyal plant has also been used as an emmenagogue or perhaps most famously as an abortifacient.[20] Chemicals in the pennyroyal plant cause the uterine lining to contract, causing a woman’s uterine lining to shed. Women who struggle with regulating their menstrual cycle or suffer from a cystic ovary syndrome may choose to drink pennyroyal tea. Pennyroyal tea is subtle enough to induce menstrual flow with minimal risk of negative health effects.

    Several herbs have been used for centuries to induce abortion.
    Pennyroyal is a common garden plant and has been used as a medicinal herb.
    I wouldn’t recommend it though, it can also be toxic.

    Pre Roe versus Wade, the hospitals were full of sick and dying women from back ally abortions that went wrong.
    This has started happening more and more often as legal abortion gets harder to obtain.
    There will be more of this again for sure.

  9. unclefrogy says

    while the Democratic leadership dithers over everything.

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    william butler yeats the second coming

  10. curbyrdogma says

    The Christian Right is probably envious of the extremely conservative theocracies in other countries, and are thinking that we need to catch up and increase our birthrate if we want to counter the numbers of “those other people”. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were working together with (or are part of) the male supremacist movement.*


    About 20 years ago, there was this foaming-at-the-mouth poster on Usenet known as FathersManifesto, at the time dismissed as a crank. His website is still up. Since that time, it’s been rather disturbing to observe how social media can so easily “radicalize” people. That’s how ISIS got its start.


    (*really the Asshole Supremacists, since the best chance they have of producing progeny is by force)

  11. says

    Andrew Scheer has said he won’t reopen the abortion issue in Canada if the Conservatives are elected this fall. Not that this means he can’t find ways to covertly reduce access to abortion.

  12. KG says


    It’s a good poem, but William Butler Yeats was a fascist. That’s not an exaggeration: he was an enthusiastic supporter of the “Blueshirts”, Ireland’s fascist movement, and an admirer of Mussolini. His relationships with women were exploitative and creepy.

  13. Marissa van Eck says

    I have been warning people about this for years, that when things truly start getting bad, what everyone is going to be most surprised about is how fast it happens.

    They say that people who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it. What they don’t say is that those of us who do are condemned to be forced to repeat it, dragged along kicking and screaming and cursing our fate as the mindless zombie hordes march us onward.