May 10Liked by Antonia Scatton

Great post! Keep them coming!

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One problem with this new formulation: it's not true. We don't actually believe this, at least not all the way down. And people were very recently reminded of this in the case of the COVID vaccines, and they're still pretty sore about it.

Most science-respecting, educated liberals (me included) believe that the state's public health authority gives it a strong right to override individual bodily autonomy when the imminent deaths of millions are on the line. But non-liberals (including some persuadables who are open to Biden but still butt-hurt about how COVID was managed) are going to hear your formulation and immediately have that button pushed. In their minds, we stomped all over their God-given individual right to reject the vaccine, and they're still livid about it.

To them, this new argument sounds like a straight-up lie -- or willful hypocrisy -- and it's not going to make any friends among people who might otherwise be open to us.

The more conservative anti-choicers also believe that the imminent deaths of millions ARE on the line as long as abortion is legal, so the stench of hypocrisy inherent in this position is even stronger there. But these folks weren't going to vote for our candidates anyway.

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May 10·edited May 10Author

Actually, that's WHY this is the perfect argument. We WANT to push people's buttons. We absolutely want to activate their feelings about their "God-given individual right to reject the vaccine" because that is the perspective from which we want them to look at the issue of abortion access.

We would relish the opportunity to have a full blown discussion about bodily autonomy. It would allow us to remind people that at no point did we ever force anyone to take a vaccine. There were ALWAYS other alternatives, because we DO believe in bodily autonomy. It would allow us to articulate the real differences between a vaccine during a global pandemic and a woman's right to make decisions that impact no-one but herself and a small cluster of cells.

Provoking the argument that you want to have is not only necessary, it is the ONLY way to get the press to pay attention to what you are saying.

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The endgame of this strategy is that, in exchange for abortion rights, we assume a totalist bodily-autonomy position that forever surrenders the right of the state to insist (and yes, we did used to insist -- people could opt out of vaccines, but refusal always came at a steep cost) that people do the right thing when the common good urgently demands it.

I'm not ready to cede that territory. I think our institutions abandoned it much too easily during COVID. Letting the anti-science right win that one was a huge step forward for the forces seeking to permanently undermine our belief in the common good, which underpins the entire idea of democracy. The assault on that vision of a shared future we create together is everywhere these days -- abetted by foreign governments, as we're learning -- and it's too essential to be frittered away by allowing the anti-science anti-vax contingent to win this particular argument.

I'm committed enough to abortion rights that I spent half a dozen years on the national board of our leading abortion rights organization -- the one that put Roe in front of SCOTUS in the first place. Women's bodily autonomy should be non-negotiable. But I'm also acutely aware that this argument is tied up now with other arguments, and some of those take us to places that reinforce some of the darkest impulses of the reactionary right.

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May 14Liked by Antonia Scatton

I agree, Antonia. We don’t need to be apologizing for the personal choices that we make, or for our belief system.

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Fabulous information! Im glad I found this. Very helpful for our discussions.

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May 16Liked by Antonia Scatton

It would be great to get this highlighted in Abortion Every Day (Jessica Valenti) article on substack.

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I found this useful but I don’t understand why we mention women without mentioning girls. Pregnancy can occur in kids as young as 4th grade! The average age of a first period is 12.

Abusing children by forcing them through pregnancy and birth is not the role of government. Will the ridiculously over-empowered State allow children to become parents or simply confiscate all infants born to children? Putting a girl who should be having sleepovers and riding her bike through a C-Section is barbaric. The scenario of a girl in foster care being impregnated then producing another foster child is dystopian.

These theocrats are apparently so focused using their “parents rights” to ban words and pictures that they would ignore government SCALPELS being applied to their daughters’ abdomens!

There is no way that can be Constitutional and if we speak of it plainly, the imperative to stop this literal child torture at the ballot box will be obvious.

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