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The ‘New Right’s’ War On Women

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Photo Submitted Residents of NWA gather in Fayetteville last Spring for a rally against the war on women.

Photo Submitted
Residents of NWA gather in Fayetteville last Spring for a rally against the war on women.

The 89th General Assembly of Arkansas:

AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE PREGNANT WOMAN’S PROTECTION ACT.  SB170 — Is now known as Act 156 as it has been signed into law.
TO TERMINATE CERTAIN PARENTAL RIGHTS OF A PERSON CONVICTED OF RAPE TO A CHILD CONCEIVED AS A RESULT OF THE RAPE AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY. HB1002 — Is now known as Act 210 as it has been signed into law.
TO CREATE THE ARKANSAS HUMAN HEARTBEAT PROTECTION ACT; TO PROTECT UNBORN CHILDREN; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY. SB134 — Has been passed by both the House and Senate, vetoed by Beebe, With override of that veto from the Senate.
AN ACT TO PROHIBIT HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE POLICIES FROM OFFERING COVERAGE FOR ABORTIONS EXCEPT THROUGH A SEPARATE RIDER. HB1100  — Is now known as Act 72 as it has been signed into law.
AN ACT TO CREATE THE PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY. HB1037 — Is now known as Act 171.

Special Editorial By Donna Shade and Claudia Reynolds-LeBlanc

Democracy is being hijacked and the women of Arkansas are the hostages. Relentless, the 89th General Assembly is diligently legislating women’s reproductive rights. Militant, polyester dinosaurs at the Capitol remain addicted to the idea of “sacred” reproduction. Their theocratic, corporate backed barrage of legislation is designed, whether consciously or otherwise, to treat women as broodmares. People like tenacious evangelist Senator Jason Rapert (R) are prepared to sacrifice women on the legislative altar, to honor personal agendas and the zygote.

Manipulation Of Faith

Something awful has happened within the community of practicing Christians over the past few decades. Women are the most recently targeted, of two or three groups, who are scapegoats for the outward expression of a deeper and more dangerous, hateful, New Puritan disposition. A large faction of those who profess Christ have been seduced into enabling and empowering a corporate backed cartel of ruthless political schemers, that has turned our nation into an empire reminiscent of regimes we were always told were criminal, moral opposites of all the United States stood for.

Long standing values and traditions of churches and political parties have been manipulated and twisted, re-packaged, and marketed through slick well-funded personalities and foundations. Most of the rest of us have been appalled, trying to make sense of the growing hardhearted psychopathy of not only those in power, but many average Americans too, who now so frequently think and act in terms of imperial exceptionalism.

History of Church & Abortion

It isn’t true that Roe V. Wade upset the evangelical Protestants. It was over five years after Roe V. Wade that The Moral Majority was founded. For decades evangelicals had little interest in politics. The issue that mobilized them was the IRS revoking the tax exempt status of segregated private religious schools.

So their characterization of themselves as the “New Abolitionists,” comparing their stance on abortion to that of the true abolitionists during slavery, is totally preposterous. Besides which, the original abolitionists advocated women’s equality too.

Before Roe V Wade — in 1971 the Southern Baptist Convention adopted this resolution: “We call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” AFTER Roe V Wade — A Dallas Theological Seminary professor in an early 1980s Christianity Today article: “God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: ‘If a man kills any human life he will be put to death’ (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22-24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense. … Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.”

W.A. Criswell, a past president of the SBC, and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, regarding the Roe decision: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person…and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.” W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press: “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.”

All of these leaders have since done an about-face on the issue, and it’s never mentioned that they ever said such things. Even one book was revised, with its author’s original position completely reversed.

Nothing about this is mentioned in the revised version.

Before 1979, the Catholic church was essentially the only one that ever showed any interest in eliminating legal abortion. They had already formed the National Right to Life Committee before Roe, in response to a rapidly growing trend in state legislatures. Arkansas changed its law to ease restrictions on abortion in 1969, four years prior to Roe, and it was one of many states. But when the IRS came to take away Bob Jones University’s tax exemption, the white evangelical establishment rallied the troops.

That’s when ultra-conservative strategists who wanted to create a powerful “New Right” in the Republican party saw an opportunity to galvanize the unhappy Catholic and evangelical establishments, and use them to mobilize a base that would propel their New Right to power. The Moral Majority’s creation and name was the idea of one of those strategists, Paul Weyrich. He enlisted Jerry Falwell as the co-founding figurehead and spokesman.

Well-Funded, Slick Personalities

Weyrich and other operatives worked with Falwell, James Dobson, and other fundamentalist personalities, to create new and powerful stories about the nation, and the Christian tradition within it.

These stories were not concerned with truth, but with what could stir up masses of people by playing on their fears and insecurities, following an era of social change, and correction of some past injustices.

They played dirty, and they were experts at revisionism and manipulation, as well as persuading and motivating people. They particularly played on fears of lost prosperity and hierarchical position.

Moreover, if the New Puritan Dominionists ever get the theocracy they’re after, and all abortions become criminal offenses in the U.S., they’ll have to backtrack just a little, and enact a law whereby a husband and the family’s clergyman (and it will be cclergyMAN) can force a wife to have an abortion.

According to Old Testament instructions, the husband is to bring the wife before the priest, who is to give her something called “bitter water” to drink. If she’s innocent, everything will be just fine. If not, then she’ll miscarry, and whether pregnant or not, be stricken with a very gnarly and painful sounding infection that will leave her sterile. Good Christian women rejoice.

All Jewish scholars and experts on Mosaic law will tell you that abortion was always allowed in Hebrew and Jewish tradition. As a matter of fact, Israelites were not even allowed to observe the traditional mourning rites if they had a child who didn’t live past thirty days. This is not to suggest, as those who call themselves “pro-life” do, that ancient Biblical laws should be written into our state or national codes, just that their anti-choice stance has absolutely no Biblical support.

Jesus Loves Women

Stanley Grenz in his Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry describes that “Jesus gave no explicit teaching on the role of women in the church. In fact, he left no teaching at all concerning women as a class of people…. He treated every woman he met as a person in her own right”.

The women Jesus befriended were many — but the compelling fact is that Jesus trusted women! The 89th General Assembly of Arkansas would best serve our state by emulating Jesus in seeing women as persons in their own right. The misogyny and patriarchy manifest in our General Assembly disparage Jesus’ example of acknowledging the dignity and honor of women. The multiple anti-woman bills of the 89th General Assembly are prejudicial, archfiend and a debasement of the whole, civilized society.

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