Even Romania has stopped the dystopian approach to women’s reproductive health that has become so appealing to the newly emboldened red states under Trump.
“In 1966, the leader of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, outlawed access to abortion and contraception in a bid to boost the country’s population. In the short term, it worked, and the year after it was enacted the average number of children born to Romanian women jumped from 1.9 to 3.7. But birthrates quickly fell again as women found ways around the ban. Wealthy, urban women were sometimes able to bribe doctors to perform abortions, or they had contraceptive IUDs smuggled in from Germany.
Yet Romania’s prohibition of the procedure was disproportionately felt by low-income women and disadvantaged groups, which abortion-rights advocates in the United States fear would happen if the Alabama law came into force. As a last resort, many Romanian women turned to home and back-alley abortions, and by 1989, an estimated 10,000 women had died as a result of unsafe procedures. The real number of deaths might have been much higher, as women who sought abortions and those who helped them faced years of imprisonment if caught. Maternal mortality skyrocketed, doubling between 1965 and 1989.”
No less tragic was the effect on the lives of Romanian children.
“Another consequence of Romania’s abortion ban was that hundreds of thousands of children were turned over to state orphanages. When communism collapsed in Romania in 1989, an estimated 170,000 children were found warehoused in filthy orphanages. Having previously been hidden from the world, images emerged of stick-thin children, many of whom had been beaten and abused. Some were left shackled to metal bed frames.”
The notion that mostly white male Republican legislators who enact these things into law are “pro life” is belied by the fact that their states — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Utah, Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio — already have higher maternal and child mortality rates than the rest of the country. These laws aren’t a statement about life. They’re a statement about controlling women’s health, women’s fertility, women’s right to make decisions about our own bodies.
Trump and his supporters represent a vicious backlash against progress in a number of areas: civil rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights.
If young women have taken the progress of recent decades for granted, they can hardly do so any more.