I’ve been thinking about this since the elections last week. The news trumpets loudly, consistently, that the “winning issue” for Democrats and/or liberals is abortion. Every political article mentions “abortion” as the key issue for the 2024 elections; that Americans are “pro-abortion”.
I’m here to tell everyone in the media that they’re wrong. Democrats aren’t “pro-abortion”. Because the issue isn’t “abortion”, it’s a much larger concept called “control”. Abortion is being used as an excuse to establish precedent that it’s acceptable to exert control over women. To take away their ability to decide what happens to them. By focusing on abortion we’re missing the larger, more important issue – that every person should have bodily autonomy (yeah, I know, that phrase doesn’t exactly resonate with the masses, but it’s exactly what I mean so I’ll occasionally use it). Every person *must* be able to decide what happens to their body – one segment of humanity cannot be a slave to another.
Once abortion is taken away as something a woman can decide for herself, it’s a short path to other restrictions. Think about it. In societies/religions where social control over women is fully embraced and made normal, women:
- Can’t drive automobiles
- Must cover their bodies in a specific way
- Can’t speak in many settings, like church or public meetings
- Can’t hold office or many jobs
- Can’t vote
- Are told who they will marry, and when
- Cannot be alone with a man who is not their spouse
- Have no access to birth control
- Are physically mutilated (not in every society, but in the extreme ones)
The list goes on and on. Conservative religions and societies all want to normalize the control of women to some extent. (I don’t understand why that is, I just know from example that it’s true.) Muslims and fundamentalist Christians are the prime examples of this desire to control women, but there are others.
So when we focus on abortion, we miss the bigger problem that part of humanity wants to control the other part. We need to stop following the conservative playbook and talk about this issue as it really is. Don’t talk about abortion because that’s just one example of control (an admittedly complicated example, as pregnancy is a process with significantly varying tradeoffs at the beginning and end of the process).
I maintain that the winning issue for Democrats in 2024 is that women should not be saddled with any form of bodily control not also placed on men. Equality of control. Focus on that, talk about that, and abortion becomes just a single case among many examples.