What Will Happen to our Daughters / 2022
I wonder what will happen to our daughters,
Losing women’s rights in every way
It’s so sad, go back a century,
Creepy how the GOP’s so eager to betray.
Now they really want to own your bodies,
Take away your freedom and health care.
Things have changed. It’s not morality.
They will do anything for power, so beware.
You don’t really have a vote if you don’t use it.
This time around, you could really lose it.
You know we brought you up to love your freedom.
You can see who’s taking it away.
They’ve got a plan, just like the Taliban,
Controlling everybody, making you obey.
You may wonder why I think it matters:
‘Cause democracy is on the line.
And our future should be together.
I really wish that you would put your hand in mine.
lyrics ©Doug Hendren, Nancy Beall 2010/2022
Tune: “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” written by Trevor Peacock (1965) and made popular by Herman’s Hermits.
What’s It About? In 1973, the right of American women to terminate unwanted pregnancy was enshrined in federal law with the passage of Roe v. Wade. It was widely understood that no one undertakes an abortion lightly, but that the right to family planning is a personal decision, and an essential piece of women’s health care.
When Roe passed, it was widely hailed on both sides of the aisle, including by the staunchest conservatives. Peggy Goldwater, wife of arch-conservative Barry Goldwater, helped to found the Arizona chapter of Planned Parenthood.
What changed? The story, as it turns out, is not about “morality,” but about money and racism. It has been exposed by Kathleen Stewart in The Power Worshippers: Inside the dangerous rise of religious nationalism (2020). In the years following Brown vs. The Board of Education, white southern schools came under increasing pressure to integrate. By the early 1970s, the Internal Revenue Service made it clear that refusing to integrate would eventually cost them their tax-exempt status. Casting about for strategies to stay both segregated and tax-exempt, they identified abortion as a wedge issue that could be exploited in pursuit of political power. And the rest is history.
The extent to which these events are poisoning American culture and political institutions can be seen with only a cursory review of recent years. In its eagerness to hold onto Evangelical votes, the Republican Senate unconstitutionally refused to hold confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, on the grounds that Obama’s term had only 10 months remaining. Nearly five years later, the Senate rushed through confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett just a week before election day, making a mockery of the traditional solemnity and independence of the American judicial system. During Kavanaugh’s 2018 hearings, allegations of sexual assault from three credible accusers did not seem to trouble the Republican senators. Nor the fact that Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, all now in favor of overturning Roe v Wade, all deceived their questioners, describing Roe as “settled law,” indicating they would leave it alone.
The consequences of overturning Roe are already being felt. Access to basic birth control measures including the IUD and “morning after pill” are at risk, and extreme legislation already underway in some states.
The attack on Roe v Wade is not about reducing the abortion rate at all. Studies have shown fewer abortions in the US since Roe v. Wade in 1973. This is about men controlling women, and a small minority of Americans imposing their will on the majority. It is a move toward replacing democracy with theocracy, undermining the separation of church and state. All in all, it is very much like the Taliban, operating right here in our midst.