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Martha F. Davis and Risa E. Kaufman, writing for an American Constitution Society forum, note that “the rise in right wing populism and authoritarianism has fueled regression on women’s rights in countries such as Poland and Hungary.” They add:

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It is no coincidence that restrictions on reproductive rights, including abortion rights, are high on the agenda of authoritarian regimes, since these restrictions reinforce democratic backsliding. Abortion restrictions undermine women’s autonomy, citizenship, and rights to equality and non-discrimination, along with the right to full political participation. Reproductive and bodily autonomy is a necessary component of full citizenship and a fully functioning democracy; all people, including those with the capacity for pregnancy, must be able to exercise control over their bodies in order to participate fully.

Put differently, if you want to establish an authoritarian society, women must be relegated to the home and deprived of self-determination. Conversely, pro-democracy movements, such as the victorious one in Poland, benefit by appealing to women and promising to secure reproductive rights. Democrats have done the latter since the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, in a series of wins in the midterms later that year and in contests concerning everything from abortion rights referendums to a critical swing state Supreme Court race to special House elections.

Vice President Harris has explicitly tied abortion to the “freedom” message, taking on Republicans for stripping women of dignity and personal rights. “Freedom is fundamental to the promise of America — to the promise of America,” she said in a speech in February marking the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom of assembly … In America, freedom is not to be given. It is not to be bestowed. It is ours by right.” She exhorted the crowd, “Women trust all of us to fight for their rights and to protect their most fundamental freedoms.”

No wonder Harris quickly scheduled a trip to Arizona on Friday to focus on that state’s Supreme Court decision reinstating an 1864 near-total abortion ban. (“The Biden campaign is showing that it can be nimble — and quick — in responding to court cases as it works to leverage its perceived advantage on abortion,” Axios reported.) Harris’s messaging is part of an overall strategy to remind voters that the authoritarian right wants to control their lives, even the most intimate decisions.

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The Biden 2024 campaign has embraced progressive wins on abortion since Dobbs and the connection between the campaign’s democracy message and abortion. In the wake of the Florida state Supreme Court’s April 1 ruling making way for a six-week abortion ban, the campaign rolled out an emotionally charged television ad. The ad, featuring a woman who nearly died as a result of Texas’s draconian law, aired in key swing states, the New York Times reported.

After Arizona’s Supreme Court ruling, Biden cut an ad in which he declared, “Because of Donald Trump, millions of women lost the fundamental freedom to control their own bodies. Women’s lives are in danger.” Tying the authoritarian and his movement to loss of freedom is precisely the strategy pro-democracy forces followed in Poland.

Republicans’ panicked reaction to the Florida and Arizona decisions (“Trump, GOP scramble to contain abortion ‘earthquake,’” Politico’s headline blasted) suggests they too understand that the third rail in politics might no longer be Social Security but abortion. Trump’s recent announcement that he supported leaving abortion law to the states, and not a federal law, was widely portrayed as a change from his previously antiabortion position. But with both Florida and Arizona implementing draconian bans, it’s clear that, in many states, leaving it to them amounts to a thumbs up for forced-birth laws.

Unable to shed responsibility for abortion bans they sought, Republicans now are in a frenzy to avoid the sort of political disaster the authoritarian movement in Poland experienced. And if the Biden-Harris team is successful in tying Republicans’ war on women to the larger war on democracy, Americans, like the Poles last year, might rebel against the heavy hand of an authoritarian movement.

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The United States is not alone in confronting a right-wing authoritarian movement that, in addition to undermining democratic institutions and lashing out at the news media (“enemy of the people”), makes curtailing women’s reproductive freedom central to its agenda. The experience of Poland, in which a right-wing government virtually eliminated access to abortion and later paid for it at the ballot box, is instructive as Republicans try to flee from the harsh implications of their antiabortion ideology.

Polish voters last year threw out the right-wing government after eight years of authoritarian rule. Women disproportionately carried pro-democracy forces to victory. “Almost 75% of eligible women voted — a 12% increase over 2019,” wrote political scientist Patrice McMahon for the Conversation. “The election also saw a record number of female candidates (44%) and the largest percentage of women (30%) voted into Poland’s Sejm.”

Their activism largely centered on abortion. When the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) took office in 2015, McMahon wrote, “Poland had one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. After the ruling government tightened abortion restrictions further, Polish women took to the streets.” Lo and behold, “A breakdown of the women’s vote finds that many women voted for leftist and centrist parties that made women’s rights and liberalized abortion laws a priority.” The democratic coalition leader Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s party is now proposing loosening (albeit not eliminating) abortion restrictions. (Victories for the PiS in local and regional elections, announced Monday, show that the threat from the right has not been completely quelled.)

It’s not just in Poland or the United States where authoritarian regimes impose rules to control women. Right-wing regimes, which historically champion “traditional values,” including male power and privilege, inevitably wind up cajoling women to increase birthrates and restricting birth control and abortions.

“Democratic backsliding has gone hand in hand with a backlash against women’s rights. Scholars have labeled the assaults on gender equality, including abortion, as assaults on democracy and have suggested that the ‘assault on women’s rights has coincided with a broader assault on democracy,’” the International Center for Research on Women found. “Other experts have said the undermining of abortion rights is a key sign of a troubled democracy. Trends of de-democratization have gone in parallel with increased opposition to gender equality.”

Martha F. Davis and Risa E. Kaufman, writing for an American Constitution Society forum, note that “the rise in right wing populism and authoritarianism has fueled regression on women’s rights in countries such as Poland and Hungary.” They add:

Put differently, if you want to establish an authoritarian society, women must be relegated to the home and deprived of self-determination. Conversely, pro-democracy movements, such as the victorious one in Poland, benefit by appealing to women and promising to secure reproductive rights. Democrats have done the latter since the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, in a series of wins in the midterms later that year and in contests concerning everything from abortion rights referendums to a critical swing state Supreme Court race to special House elections.

Vice President Harris has explicitly tied abortion to the “freedom” message, taking on Republicans for stripping women of dignity and personal rights. “Freedom is fundamental to the promise of America — to the promise of America,” she said in a speech in February marking the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom of assembly … In America, freedom is not to be given. It is not to be bestowed. It is ours by right.” She exhorted the crowd, “Women trust all of us to fight for their rights and to protect their most fundamental freedoms.”

No wonder Harris quickly scheduled a trip to Arizona on Friday to focus on that state’s Supreme Court decision reinstating an 1864 near-total abortion ban. (“The Biden campaign is showing that it can be nimble — and quick — in responding to court cases as it works to leverage its perceived advantage on abortion,” Axios reported.) Harris’s messaging is part of an overall strategy to remind voters that the authoritarian right wants to control their lives, even the most intimate decisions.

The Biden 2024 campaign has embraced progressive wins on abortion since Dobbs and the connection between the campaign’s democracy message and abortion. In the wake of the Florida state Supreme Court’s April 1 ruling making way for a six-week abortion ban, the campaign rolled out an emotionally charged television ad. The ad, featuring a woman who nearly died as a result of Texas’s draconian law, aired in key swing states, the New York Times reported.

After Arizona’s Supreme Court ruling, Biden cut an ad in which he declared, “Because of Donald Trump, millions of women lost the fundamental freedom to control their own bodies. Women’s lives are in danger.” Tying the authoritarian and his movement to loss of freedom is precisely the strategy pro-democracy forces followed in Poland.

Republicans’ panicked reaction to the Florida and Arizona decisions (“Trump, GOP scramble to contain abortion ‘earthquake,’” Politico’s headline blasted) suggests they too understand that the third rail in politics might no longer be Social Security but abortion. Trump’s recent announcement that he supported leaving abortion law to the states, and not a federal law, was widely portrayed as a change from his previously antiabortion position. But with both Florida and Arizona implementing draconian bans, it’s clear that, in many states, leaving it to them amounts to a thumbs up for forced-birth laws.

Unable to shed responsibility for abortion bans they sought, Republicans now are in a frenzy to avoid the sort of political disaster the authoritarian movement in Poland experienced. And if the Biden-Harris team is successful in tying Republicans’ war on women to the larger war on democracy, Americans, like the Poles last year, might rebel against the heavy hand of an authoritarian movement.

QOSHE - Abortion bans can doom autocrats. Look at Poland. - Jennifer Rubin
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Abortion bans can doom autocrats. Look at Poland.

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14.04.2024

Follow this authorJennifer Rubin's opinions

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Martha F. Davis and Risa E. Kaufman, writing for an American Constitution Society forum, note that “the rise in right wing populism and authoritarianism has fueled regression on women’s rights in countries such as Poland and Hungary.” They add:

Advertisement

It is no coincidence that restrictions on reproductive rights, including abortion rights, are high on the agenda of authoritarian regimes, since these restrictions reinforce democratic backsliding. Abortion restrictions undermine women’s autonomy, citizenship, and rights to equality and non-discrimination, along with the right to full political participation. Reproductive and bodily autonomy is a necessary component of full citizenship and a fully functioning democracy; all people, including those with the capacity for pregnancy, must be able to exercise control over their bodies in order to participate fully.

Put differently, if you want to establish an authoritarian society, women must be relegated to the home and deprived of self-determination. Conversely, pro-democracy movements, such as the victorious one in Poland, benefit by appealing to women and promising to secure reproductive rights. Democrats have done the latter since the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, in a series of wins in the midterms later that year and in contests concerning everything from abortion rights referendums to a critical swing state Supreme Court race to special House elections.

Vice President Harris has explicitly tied abortion to the “freedom” message, taking on Republicans for stripping women of dignity and personal rights. “Freedom is fundamental to the promise of America — to the promise of America,” she said in a speech in February marking the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom of assembly … In America, freedom is not to be given. It is not to be bestowed. It is ours by right.” She exhorted the crowd, “Women trust all of us to fight for their rights and to protect their most fundamental freedoms.”

No wonder Harris quickly scheduled a trip to Arizona on Friday to focus on that state’s Supreme Court decision reinstating an 1864 near-total abortion ban. (“The Biden campaign is showing that it can be nimble — and quick — in responding to court cases as it works to leverage its perceived advantage on abortion,” Axios reported.) Harris’s messaging is part of an overall strategy to remind voters that the authoritarian right wants to control their lives, even the most intimate decisions.

Advertisement

The Biden 2024 campaign has embraced progressive wins on abortion since Dobbs and the connection between the campaign’s democracy message and abortion. In the........

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