Last Sunday, my post described the actual origin of the anti-choice movement, which was an effort to turn out Evangelical voters in order to protect segregated “Christian” academies.
Last Tuesday, I posted about the research tying a variety of our current hostilities back to racism. Opposition to immigration from “brown” countries, belief in a number of conspiracy theories and, of course, devotion to Trump and his “Big Lie,” among other distortions of public opinion, all strongly correlate with racist ideologies.
The article began by noting that the US Supreme Court is very likely to overturn Roe v. Wade this spring–and that the Court’s refusal thus far to halt a patently unconstitutional Texas statute means that, for women in Texas, reproductive rights have already been nullified.
The article then reported on an ugly underside of the “pro life” movement that has rarely been the focus of media coverage.
These victories have made visible a growing cohort within the anti-choice movement: the militias and explicitly white supremacist groups of the organized far right. Like last year, this year’s March for Life featured an appearance by Patriot Front, a white nationalist group that wears a uniform of balaclavas and khakis. The group, which also marched at a Chicago March for Life demonstration earlier this month, silently handed out cards to members of the press who tried to ask them questions. “America belongs to its fathers, and it is owed to its sons,” the cards read. “The restoration of American sovereignty must follow the restoration of the American Family.”
Explicit white nationalism, and an emphasis on conscripting white women into reproduction, is not a fringe element of the anti-choice movement. Associations between white supremacist groups and anti-abortion forces are robust and longstanding. In addition to Patriot Front, groups like the white nationalist Aryan Nations and the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker party have also lent support to the anti-abortion movement. These groups see stopping abortion as part of a broader project to ensure white hegemony in addition to women’s subordination. Tim Bishop, of the Aryan Nations, noted that “Lots of our people join [anti-choice organizations] … It’s part of our Holy War for the pure Aryan race.” That the growing white nationalist movement would be focused on attacking women’s rights is maybe to be expected: research has long established that recruitment to the alt-right happens largely among men with grievances against feminism, and that misogyny is usually the first form of rightwing radicalization.
The article provided evidence that the growing presence of White Christian Nationalists at “Pro Life” marches and events isn’t because the movement has been “infiltrated” without its consent. To the contrary, “just as the alt-right loves the anti-choice movement, the anti-choice movement loves the alt-right.”
In 2019, Kristen Hatten, a vice-president at the anti-choice group New Wave Feminists, shared racist content online and publicly identified herself as an “ethnonationalist”. In addition to sharing personnel, the groups share tactics. In 1985, the KKK began circulating “Wanted” posters featuring the photos and personal information of abortion providers.
Now, mainline anti-choice organizations routinely share names, photos and addresses of abortion providers.
The association has a long and ugly history.
Before an influx of southern and eastern European immigrants to the United States in the latter half of the 19th century, abortion and contraception had only been partially and sporadically criminalized. This changed in the early 20th century, when an additional surge of migrants from Asia and Latin America calcified white American racial anxieties and led to white elites decrying the falling white birth rate as “race suicide.”
This led to a campaign of forced birth for “fit” mothers–White women– while another widespread campaign actively supported involuntary sterilization for poor women, particularly Black and incarcerated women.
The final paragraphs of the report are chilling:
In the current anti-choice and white supremacist alliance, the language of “race suicide” has been supplanted by a similar fear: the so-called “Great Replacement”, a racist conspiracy theory that posits that white Americans are being “replaced” by people of color. (Some antisemitic variations posit that this “replacement” is somehow being orchestrated by Jewish people.)
The way to combat this, the right says, is to force childbearing among white people, to severely restrict immigration, and to punish, via criminalization and enforced poverty, women of color. These anxieties have always animated the anti-choice movement, and they have only become more fervent among the March for Life’s rank and file as conservatives become increasingly fixated on the demographic changes that will make America a minority-white country sometime in the coming decades. The white supremacist and anti-choice movements have always been closely linked. But more and more, they are becoming difficult to tell apart.
This isn’t about “saving babies.” It never has been.