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Sex, Celebrity and the Inconvenience of Poverty

Excerpt from Real Progressives

The Washington Post covered the uproar last week over the passage of legislation dubbed, “The Heartbeat Bill,” meant to end abortions performed after six weeks of gestation, or around the time doctors may hear a heartbeat.

This law also prohibits abortion in the case of incest and rape or if the life of the mother is at risk. The law itself is not enforceable until 2020 and will be challenged in court. This indicates the true purpose of this bill – to provide a case that may ultimately challenge Roe vs Wade in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Mark Stern, writer for Slate, doubled down after taking criticism for his original coverage of the bill which asserted that the Georgia bill does, in fact, target women for prosecution in a unique way.

In a May 13, 2019 article Stern explained his argument:

“…The  law explicitly expands the definition of abortion to encompass self-termination. Georgia’s earlier abortion law defined abortion as something that one person “administers … to” or performs “upon any woman.” It was, in other words, something that one person does to another. HB 481 redefines abortion to be “the act of using, prescribing, or administering any instrument, substance, device, or other means with the purpose to terminate a pregnancy.” That means abortion includes something one person does to herself. A woman who takes misoprostol to induce miscarriage is “administering” a “substance” to “terminate a pregnancy” and is therefore liable under the law.”

If this interpretation is accurate, then women could be prosecuted and, under Georgia law, lose their right to vote while in prison or on probation.

Three other states have made similar efforts with legislation recently. Two such laws passed successfully in Ohio and Mississippi while Alabama’s version is still making its way through the state legislature. Neither the Georgia bill nor Alabama’s version directly mentions prosecution of women for having an abortion or for a miscarriage.

Washington Post reporters Deanna Paul and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux wrote, “The anti abortion legal and political community seems confident it has the votes to overrule Roe… but there are rules that govern when it’s appropriate for the Supreme Court to overturn a case. Courts generally abide by a doctrine known as stare decisis or respecting settled law. But the Supreme Court can revisit its precedents, which is what gives hope to abortion opponents.”

In fact, the Washington Post reported on twenty such cases that are all targeted to challenge and overturn the landmark SCOTUS decision legalizing abortion.

Under the Trump Administration, there have been 104 judicial appointments to federal courts and most all of these had bipartisan support. Among these were two Supreme Court Justices, 39 to justices appointed the U.S. Court of Appeals, 63 to U.S. District Courts and another 53 are currently waiting on Senate confirmations. Why did the Georgia case lead news headlines and social media above all others? Celebrity status and social media played a big part in this.

hy did the Georgia case lead news headlines and social media above all others? Celebrity status and social media played a big part in this.

Celebrity Clashes with Activists

Headlines over the last week were dominated with calls for a “Sex Strike” spearheaded by actress Alyssa Milano, who expressed outrage over passage of the Georgia bill.

Milano issued a call to action via tweet, “Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy. JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back.”

Milano has been living in Georgia for two years while filming the television series, Insatiable. Her tweet was met with immediate backlash by Georgia activists who had previously counseled the actress against her first effort, a call for a general boycott of the entire state.

Prominent Black female leaders in the activist and social work fields had asked Milano to be mindful of the negative effect a work boycott would have across the state, particularly in minority communities. Georgia offers generous tax credits to entice production studios to work in the state. AJC reported 2018 that revenues generated from over 400 projects topped $2.7 billion in direct spending. Past projects included The Black Panther and The Avengers films as well as Walking Dead and Milano’s own project.

twitter post by Anoa

Twitter @TheWayWithAnoa, https://twitter.com/TheWayWithAnoa/status/1127980758868680706 Heedless of the economic effect and council of local politicians like former Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrahams, as well as activist Anoa, who writes a blog and hosts her podcast focused on socioeconomic topics from a black perspective, The Way with Anoa, Milano issued a call for a “Sex Strike” soon after. Activists had had enough and began pushing back.

The actress may have been well intentioned, but opponents argued that she was tone deaf, and refused to work with local allies, ignoring their good work. They argue that her continued push for a boycott or strike of some kind may jeopardize future efforts toward meaningful action.

In the end, it was clear that the focus was on a single draconian law while decades of work and struggle were ignored. This is similar to Republican lawmakers who proposed the legislation by choosing to focus on one issue while a clear threat to life and lack of access to quality care has been staring them in the face for over a decade.

For now, Georgia taxpayers should prepare to fund a massive legal challenge on behalf of anti abortion interest groups.

Author’s Update: On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law a bill that restricts abortion at any stage and imposes heavy criminal penalties of clinicians who participate in the procedure. Actress Alyssa Milano has since tweeted that she just become aware of the existence of Klan organizations across the county, citing her sheltered upbringing as a child start for the cause of her confusion.


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