This illiberal regime – one that restricts freedom of movement and speech, and requires tighter supervision and control – is a key component of anti-abortion advocates’ vision of a society without abortion. And while activists in the movement can lean on the language of freedom and rights, they made it clear within weeks of Dobbs’ decision that the society they were working to build was incompatible with liberal democracy.
Historically, that’s no surprise. Efforts to limit rights and control basic civil rights functions are nearly impossible within state borders. Even before people in different states were connected through telecommunications technology, the country was interconnected by interstate commerce, travel, and mail.
The free flow of people and media means that illiberalism at the state level almost inevitably leads to illiberalism at the federal level, from requiring liberal states to enforce their laws. slave states in the 1850s to the promotion of laws regulating the flow of information about contraception in the 1870s.
The illiberalism in Dobbs’ decision should be clear enough from laws that strip women of their basic right to reproductive autonomy. But like previous illiberal regimes in the US, the restrictions will not be limited to the main goals of these restrictions.
Over the past few weeks, states have proposed, passed, or implemented a series of restrictions that go far beyond the doctor’s office: bans order medicine by mail
criminalization the act of sharing information
about abortion, banned librarians
from using the word “abortion” in conversation with patrons.
As those examples show, the process of banning abortion affects more than doctors and those who are pregnant. Not only did it place new restrictions on speech, travel and correspondence, but in some states compatriots were unofficially recognized, Bonus offered
or Licensed to protect whistleblowers
for helping enforce the abortion ban.
Nor are only public employees and private citizens included in these anti-abortion regimes. Companies, too, are now navigating new terrain, sometimes subject to new state laws.
Like Laura Weiss at The New Republic report
, pharmacy giant CVS has implemented a policy in “high-risk countries” that requires pharmacists to ask “women of childbearing potential” who have been prescribed medicines can terminate the pregnancy, to make sure they do not intend to have an abortion. If they fail to demonstrate to the pharmacist’s satisfaction that the drug has been prescribed for other purposes, their prescription may be denied. Meanwhile Google committed to delete
location data for users visiting abortion clinics, requiring the tech company to more closely monitor the sensitive location data it collects from users.
None of this is a surprise. In fact, the history of reproductive restrictions suggests that such a society-wide approach is necessary for the state to control the reproductive life of Americans. In the 19th century, as states passed greater restrictions on contraception and abortion, legislators began to expand their reach far beyond the regulation of condoms, diaphragms, and condoms. abortion.
, a federal law established in the 1870s and expanded throughout the first half of the 20th century, to not only outlaw contraceptives but also documents containing information about preventing pregnancy. Such laws have led to raids on bookstores and interference with mail services. Privacy and freedom of expression are considered second-order rights, after the government’s right to control Americans’ reproductive information and choices.
For more than a century, Americans have understood that limiting reproductive choice also entails restricting other core freedoms.
It is worth mentioning that another historical precursor, one that
yes was invited
many times in 2022
as abortion restrictions escalate: the Fugitive Slave Act. Passed in 1850, the law ensured that slavery would not be a regional issue but one that would be enforced throughout the United States. The Fugitive Slave Act is also not the only evidence that slavery cannot be contained for countries that allow slavery.
By the mid-1830s, Congress had become overwhelmed by petitions calling for the abolition of slavery it had created. a gag rule
: any petition on this topic will be automatically tabulated. As abolitionists and anti-slavery activists recognized at the time, the gag rule demonstrated that slavery affected the liberties of all Americans by removed the Constitution’s guarantee that citizens had the right to petition the government to resolve grievances.
Anti-abortion advocates argue that Dobbs did nothing more than return the abortion issue to the states. But as the legislation was proposed in the first few weeks after the decision, reproductive rights would not be a regional issue, limited to the red and purple states where Republican lawmakers stripped the birthright. property of residents.
Anti-abortion laws will imbue the whole country with their illiberalism, eroding not only reproductive rights, but the entire liberal democracy project.