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Concord Monitor – Opinion: New Hampshire, let's support bills that ensure reproductive freedom

Jean Lewandowski is a retired special education teacher. She lives in Nashua.

Republican politicians, including Governor Sununu, suffer from “be careful what you wish for” syndrome. They've been reeling like stranded carp since their Supreme Court's Dobbs decision led to abortion bans in state after state as planned.

You support a national ban, then you don't. They support some exceptions, then not. They were happy to “let the states decide,” but now they see the terrible consequences and the inevitable political backlash and are left gasping for air. Many people truly believe that abortion is wrong and are free to practice that belief, but for cynical politicians it was all about winning elections.

While race and immigration are centuries-old hot-button issues used to stoke fears and passions for political gain, it took the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade to discover the power of abortion politics. According to Reuters, the 1977 General Social Survey found that 39% of Republicans and 35% of Democrats believed that abortion should be allowed for any reason. Abortion was not about politics but about deeply personal moral, ethical and medical decisions.

In the case of Roe v. The court agreed with Wade. It did not base its decision on opinions about when life begins. People have always had deeply rooted and often contradictory views on this subject, mostly based on religious texts and teachings. But there was and is no scientific or even theological consensus to resolve these conflicts. The Court therefore relied on constitutional texts and principles to conclude that the 4th and 14th Amendments guarantee a “reasonable right to privacy” and “equal protection of the laws” to individuals, not the government admitting to following the dictates of their own hearts. heads and medical advisors.

Since then, abortion has been a winning “wedge issue” that divides or creates conflict in an otherwise unified group. Lee Atwater popularized the term during Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign, arguing that Republicans should “drive a wedge” between the national Democratic Party and the traditional Southern Democrats, the powerful “Dixiecrats.”

Southern Baptist minister Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979 to rally Southern evangelical voters behind Ronald Reagan. They grouped the Roe vs. Wade decision with other culture war issues such as racial integration, LGBTQ+ rights and women working outside the home as examples of moral decay that undermines “traditional values.” They even invented a traditional family – a nuclear family, a suburban family, a patriarchal family (just a norm after World War II) – to defend themselves against political liberalism. (“The Way We Never Were,” by Stephanie Coontz). The strategy worked well for Reagan.

The GOP adopted the language, if not the spirit, of American patriotism and Christian values, combined with horrific conspiracy theories about everything from organ harvesting to satanic rituals to divide and conquer. Over the past 30 years, they have captured state legislatures and executive offices as well as the U.S. Congress. For a term long enough to install three justices on the Supreme Court, they also had the White House. For generations, the Supreme Court has ruled case by case that states cannot violate constitutional rights. In a single decade, our current Court has reversed much of that progress.

It is not too late for us in New Hampshire to learn from other states about the dangers of abortion bans and make better decisions. We know that government bans increase maternal mortality, which is already higher in the United States than in any other wealthy country. Gynecologists are fleeing Arizona, Idaho and most Southern states because vague, uninformed and burdensome laws endanger both their livelihoods and the lives of their patients. New Hampshire is already struggling with a dangerous shortage of health care providers.

The hypocrisy among Republican lawmakers is great. The same men who are outraged by the tyranny of polio and measles vaccinations support government control of women's reproductive decisions. A 15-week ban is still making its way through the Legislature, but it is the proposed 15-day ban (not a misprint!) that provides a real enlightenment about where Republicans want to take us, and also about their profound ignorance about how pregnancy even works. How would the state enforce a 15-day ban? One hesitates to imagine it.

Introducing the bill, Bristol MP John Sellers said: “…[it] It's more about protecting the baby, but also about protecting the women, and it's not just about doing everything.” Obviously, women need to be protected by these geniuses and will certainly run amok like barbarians without strict restrictions . This is the kind of logic needed to defend all forms of subjugation.

The once “Grand Old Party” has become a haven for anti-democratic extremists, just as a healthy cell might harbor a destructive virus. We can hope that it will soon become clear that denying women the right to bodily autonomy is both a losing strategy and terrible for the country, but since our rights are effectively left to the states for now, voters must mobilize. That means supporting bills now that would ensure reproductive freedom and opposing those that would deny it. And it means electing competent leaders in November who truly believe that Live Free also applies to women.

Anna Harden

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