Viewpoint: Take up arms against widening war on women as casualties mount

Viewpoint: Take up arms against widening war on women as casualties mount
Karen Rubin, Columnist


It is not OK that Christo Nationalist lawmakers are trying to preserve in vitro fertilization by carving out limits to liability for fertility clinics and doctors even though it goes against their personhood scripture. (“We want more children!” “Families should be able to breed!”)

But once you deem a clump of cells – representing the “hope”, the “possibility” of a child – having “personhood” and establish that personhood over the personhood of the mother, you still expose her to prosecution under Alabama’s 1872 state law, the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, should she refuse to continue to pay the fees for storage, to refuse to implant an embryo that is not viable or has genetic defect or in factfails to implant all the embryos that are collected in the hopes of having a pregnancy. While 10 percent of women seek fertility treatment, 2% of pregnancies result from IVF. And then you expose her to prosecution if the pregnancy fails in this burgeoning criminalization of pregnancy.

Women are already being prosecuted for miscarrying (one in four pregnancies result in miscarriage) – which will lead to women living in fear that they will be charged for infanticide if they are shown to have indulged in “risky” behavior like skiing during pregnancy, riding in a speedboat – while women are forced by the state to come to the brink of death or lose their future futility without receiving health care.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act requires hospitals to give emergency medical care, but states including Texas, Kansas and Missouri with extreme abortion bans have decided that hospitals and doctors, on threat of prosecution, must ignore a woman’s plight, federal law, their Hippocratic Oath, and let her bleed to death in the parking lot or if she survives, lose her ability to become pregnant again. It is no coincidence that the states with the most Draconian abortion bans also have the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality.

Instead of hospitals and doctors worrying about being prosecuted by the state for providing care, they should worry about being sued for a woman dying or losing her fertility because of their failure.

Nearly two in three pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, and one in three happen one week to one year after delivery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Biden administration is enabling states to extend Medicaid, which pays 42% of U.S. births, to a full year after giving birth but two states, Idaho and Arkansas, have refused.

Nassau County women’s reproductive rights advocates protest after the Supreme Court issues its Dobbs decision, overturning the constitutional rights under Roe v Wade. New Yorkers will have a chance to enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment into the state constitution in November © Karen Rubin/

Texas and Alabama are among the states that are trying to ban pregnant women from traveling out of state to places like New York State, even prosecuting family who might provide aid. It doesn’t matter, as the Justice Department is now arguing, that the Constitution protects the right to travel across state lines and engage in conduct that is lawful where it is performed and that states cannot prevent third parties from assisting others in exercising that right.

Missouri and three other states now ban a pregnant woman from obtaining a divorce, even if she is a victim of domestic violence and her life is in danger.

There’s a Pregnant Workers Fairness Act that went into effect in 2023 (thanks Biden-Harris) that requires employers to give reasonable accommodation to pregnant women, but Texas has decided it can ignore it.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is supposed to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed, but somehow women in Texas have no right to privacy – not on their cell phones, their computer records keeping track of their periods, their health records or even have doctor-patient confidentiality anyone else gets – from the state or the bounty-hunters it has incentivized to terrorize pregnant women.

It’s only a pyrrhic victory that Walgreens and CVS will make available mifepristone, a drug used in 50 percent of abortions, but only in states that have not banned abortion, even as the ChristoFascists on the Supreme Court may actually ban mifepristone, despite its having been used safety and effectively for 20 years– effectively instituting a national abortion ban.

The religious zealot misogynists are resurrecting the Comstock Act from 1873 that defined contraceptives as obscene and illicit and made it a federal offense to disseminate through the mail or across state lines. Though the Act was amended in 1936 to allow physicians to legally mail birth control devices and information (and later birth control pills) – the Biden administration’s main way to preserve reproductive health care where stripped away – rabid Christian Nationalists want to reapply the law to bar abortion medication as well as contraception (though no problem mailing Viagra).

After Roe was stripped away, 27 million – one out of every three women of reproductive age – lost access to abortion, according to the White House’s Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access – but more than that, women lost access to reproductive healthcare and basic human rights.

The horror of what is unfolding here in the United States has even triggered France to enshrine abortion rights into its constitution.

“It is always too late if we wait until a right is threatened to protect it,” Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti told France’s senators. “The freedom of abortion is not like the others because it allows people to decide their future. For democracy to control its destiny, women must be allowed to control theirs.”

“The rights of women are reversible — you are never sure to have really won,” said Geneviève Fraisse, a French feminist philosopher. “The proof is in the United States.”

It should boggle the mind that Americans need to hear the rationale to restore women’s human rights from France.

Biden-Harris’ reelection is the only barrier to the dystopia that is already unfolding. But, clearly, the president can only do so much. We need a Democratic Congress to codify Roe and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. And finish ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment so protections are on firmer ground even against a Supreme Court determined to ignore constitutional rights when it suits them.

The New York State legislature, despite laws protecting women’s and gender rights, just passed an Equal Rights Amendment to the state constitution. The vote to ratify the NYS ERA will appear on the November 2024 election ballot.

The Westchester Women’s Bar Association of NY is holding a zoom conference on NYS’s ERA on March 8 at 1-2:15 pm (International Women’s Day). Register at

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