The Dystopian Future of Reproductive Rights

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.

4 thoughts on “The Dystopian Future of Reproductive Rights

  1. When I began working in reproductive health care, abortion was still illegal. I too saw women die from attempts with coat hangers and Lysol douches, and other desperate methods to abort. Never. Again.

  2. for Phyllis: It’s an ugly scenario, and the smug, self righteous white male legislators in these states are as ignorant as they are cruel.

  3. Pam,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, directly and truthfully. And, most importantly, from a WOMAN’S perspective. To see a legislative body overwhelming populated by white men make a decision about a process of which they have absolutely no innate understanding (and clearly have demonstrated that lack of knowledge and most egregiously showing they have no interest in acquiring it!) makes the bile in my throat rise.

    You also correctly state the facts about the mortality rates of woman and children and the disproportionate numbers of them in the very places who are bumbling and fumbling forward with these draconian prohibitions. Further interesting – in light of a recent research survey released stack ranking our nation’s states – is how those very same states are at the bottom of the list in economic opportunity, health, well-being, etc. Can so many people be so blind as to not make that correlation?

    As a man, I trust YOU – as a woman – and all other women to judge for themselves what’s best for their bodies. Especially since there is no similar pressure put on me, as a man, with respect to similar judgements.

    Ignorant and cruel. The sad truth about the state of affairs in our country with respect to those in the minority who delude themselves into believing they are a majority.

  4. for Steve: Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I’m aware, as you point out, that these states are far behind the rest not only in maternal and child health outcomes, but in lots of measures of economic and social well being. Apparently the people who live in them are NOT making the correlation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.