On Tuesday, archconservative Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a new Republican-backed law banning nearly all abortion procedures. There’s no question it violates the Supreme Court’s own decisions on abortion rights, and even Hutchinson himself expressed faux disgruntlement that the bill he was signing did away with even the usual exceptions for rape and incest victims. None of that is the point. The point, explained Hutchinson, was to create a vehicle for the newly radical Supreme Court, with two new members freshly installed by a twice-impeached Republican president who may yet end his days in a prison cell, if even one of the many investigations against him comes to fruition, to overturn established law and turn both Arkansas and the wider United States into the Handmaid’s Tale paradise in which a gaggle of the nation’s Christian far-right can best impose their own religious beliefs on absolutely everyone else, and with the full force of law.
The new law aims to put doctors who perform or “attempt” abortions in prison. There are no exceptions except to save the life of the mother—not for raped children, incest victims, or anyone else. It is part of a nationwide push by the glibly misogynistic fascist right to overturn abortion protections and impose a bit of religious zealotry onto American women, regardless of their beliefs. In South Carolina, lawmakers just weeks ago passed a law on all abortions after the detection of a “heartbeat,” another measure aimed squarely at poking new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett into undoing a half century of protections and Talibanesquing our laws into better compliance with the desires of religious extremists.
The Republican Party may be most focused on new voter suppression efforts aimed at stopping the nation’s voters from removing them no matter what the majority of each county and state might want, but they aren’t waiting to see whether those efforts will find success. The last administration murdered 500,000 Americans through incompetence and were protected by allied lawmakers precisely because filling the courts with party loyalists was more important than laws or the pandemic combined; they intend to cash in their hard-won chips.
The conservative court itself isn’t waiting either. In the very last days of the Trump presidency, the new conservative majority issued an unusually timed order allowing the administration to re-establish restrictions on women requiring an in-person doctor visit, even during the pandemic, before obtaining a mifepristone prescription.
This is all going to come to a boiling point, and quickly. The conservative court has already singled their impatience, when it comes to scribbling out abortion protections, and the same fascist crowd that refuses to fully acknowledge even the legitimacy of the not-Republican president now in office is falling over its own feet with attempts to violate Roe as spectacularly as possible, so as to earn the prestige of being “the” law the court uses to toss it out.
That it comes on the heels of the most misogynistic group of televangelical hucksters to scuttle through the White House in recent memory is not in any way an accident. It was Trumpism that brought outright contempt for women into the Republican chorus. It was always there before, of course, but Trump proved you didn’t have to dance around it with euphemisms, you could go full-bore rapist and the Handmaid crowd would still lay hands on you and call you America’s own Jesus.