The National Rifle Association didn’t just stop the effort to close the loopholes in background checks, even though that effort was supported by more than 8 in 10 Americans. It has crushed academic research on gun violence to the point that we don’t even know how many people commit suicide at gun ranges each year.
Some say the gun rights movement has learned from what happened to the tobacco industry, as decades of denial gave way to legislation that has increasingly diminished the ability of their product to be consumed in public.
But smoking tobacco laced with nicotine isn’t a Constitutional right, unlike the right to bear arms or a woman’s right to choose. If firearms advocates want to search for an example of effectively legislating away a right, the can look at what their allies in the anti-abortion rights movement have achieved.
Exactly 41 years after the Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s right to privacy via the “due process” clause of the Constitution gave her a limited right to end a pregnancy, 87 percent of counties in the United States lack an abortion provider. The right’s effort to use local and state control to enact laws and regulations make it impossible to provide the procedure in most of the country. And they’re far from done from trying to make abortion rights “a thing of the past,” as Governor Rick Perry vowed last year before signing legislation that will force dozens of clinics to close.
State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) rose to speak for 14 hours against laws that were clearly designed to close as many clinics as possible, making an abortion far more difficult to obtain, and then ban the procedure earlier than the Supreme Court had previously ruled was Constitutional.
Imagine if you couldn’t purchase a gun in 87 percent of the country. Imagine if nearly every day in some state a new piece of legislation was being considered that didn’t close gun shops but made it impossible for them to operate, forcing buyers into the black market. Gun owners may not mind that because buying a gun from a private individual is less of a hassle. But the industry, which finances the NRA, would never let that happen.
Despite what Republicans want you to believe, there is no “abortion industry.” We know this because an “industry” would never let the march against women’s rights proceed as rapidly as it has in the last few years.
Knowing that abortion is actually more common where it’s illegal, the right is pushing women into a black market that could cost them their health and their lives. The only hope women have is the courts, politicians and activists willing to stand up for the right to choose.
Wendy Davis did just that in a way that captured the country’s attention. It infuriated those against abortion rights who brand their opponents as murderers, or with the more stinging “infanticide.” And now that Davis is raising lots of money in her effort to become Texas’ governor, they’re seizing on every inconsistency in her story to shame her as a bad mother and craven opportunist.
Shaming women who attempt to exercise their right to have an abortion is an effective tactic. One of the women who went to Kermit Gosnell’s vile clinic, where actual crimes were committed, reported that she avoided the local Planned Parenthood because “the picketers out there, they scared me half to death.”
Even politically, Democrats have at times adopted the talking point that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” because that’s what people say in polls that they want. In a CNN/ORC poll last May, 42 percent said abortion should be legal in few circumstances while 25 percent were in favor of “all,” 11 percent said “most” and 20 percent said “none.”
The “none” is the official opinion of the GOP in its party platform, even as Republicans oppose the family planning and sex education that are the best hopes for actually reducing unintended pregnancies. And the “none” position is winning, with just one vote on the Supreme Court threatening to end more than four decades of choice.
Wendy Davis is a threat to those who feel their position for “life” is on the march. She says, “I’m a mother who made the choice to keep my child and I will fight for you to have your choice.” Her life story and courage are inspiring and embolden others to speak out. She’s even redefining being “pro-life” in a way that holds conservatives responsible for the care of children after being born.
So Republicans must destroy her.
The anti-abortion movement — like the gun rights movement — sees any hope for its opponents as something to be destroyed before it can make actual progress.
One conservative said the recent attempts to undermine Davis’ life story remind him of Rush Limbaugh’s pyrrhic attack on Sandra Fluke. But they bear more resemblance to the way the right tried to undermine now-Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), another singular voice from the left who enrages the right with fear.
Republicans kept trying to call her out for mistakenly saying she had Native American ancestry. But in the end all they did was reveal their own dizzying hate and the emptiness of their arguments.
Photo: Alan Kotok via Flickr