Opinion: Abortion ban draft screams to us why elections matter

There is no greater testament to the adage, "election's matter," than today's screaming headline across the country about a leaked Supreme Court draft of a majority opinion striking down the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision, Roe v. Wade.

Politico, on Monday night, published the leaked draft stating the court had privately voted on the matter (the court typically issues its decisions in June). The report is already igniting abortion-rights battles and protests across the nation.

Unless the draft changes - and sometimes they do - it will trigger immediate bans on abortion in at least 22 states, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Among them are Tennessee and Georgia, where battles in recent years were mostly fought and lost in the Republican-majority legislatures in the GOP top-heavy South.

If Roe falls, women must become a force like nothing we've ever seen.

Roe was the case that really, finally, made it clear women were full citizens of America with as much control over their bodies as men have when they take those little blue pills for what ails them.

Women best stock up on morning-after pills and birth control pills while they can. Because make no mistake, those will be next on the GOP's hit list.

The self-righteous anti-abortion crowers wrap themselves in a "pro-life" mantra even as abortion numbers have fallen to less than half those since the early 1980s peak. It also matters little to this minority "religious right" that a solid majority of Americans consistently say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

But please note: "Pro-life" doesn't carry the same urgency for these GOP leaders and lawmakers when they demand it be easier for Americans even as young as 18 to obtain and carry deadly weapons. Just look at Tennessee's "permitless carry" laws pushed and signed by Gov. Bill Lee. Not only are guns encouraged rather than banned, Tennesseans need no permit or gun safety training, either.

The bevy of loosened gun laws paving the way for Tennesseans to haul guns pretty much everywhere but in the state Capitol building passed in the same range of years when the abortion trigger law and other abortion restrictions hummed along on assembly line-like manufacture.

In 2014, right-to-lifers successfully pushed to amend our state Constitution to explicitly bar a right to an abortion in Tennessee - a right previously protected in 1999 by the Tennessee Supreme Court. In quick succession, Tennessee enacted other roadblocks: A 48-hour waiting period, mandatory counseling, a bar on the state's Affordable Care Act insurance coverage, a bar against telemedicine for medication abortions, a requirement that a woman undergo and see an ultrasound, a requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated and a ban on abortions for sex or race selection or due to a genetic anomaly.

Georgia has followed much the same trajectory. Alabama, as always is a little behind - but not far.

Yet "pro-life" and "right-to-life" apply apparently only to the unborn. Right-wingers decry abortion as "murder," but they have don't seem to hear God when they wave aside rising gun deaths as they loosen gun laws. Nor have they had trouble screaming "no" to face masks and vaccines that protect adults and children from COVID-19.

Once a baby is out of the womb, all bets and God's commands are off. Then the rally cry is to cut children's health care insurance and food aid and make it harder for him or her to vote. And, by all means, make sure they only read certain books in school and are taught only "patriotic" history.

America's women have not treated abortion as willy-nilly birth control. The abortion rate has steadily fallen since it peaked in the early 1980s at 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. In 2017, the rate was 13.5, down 8% from 14.6 in 2014. The 2017 number - 862,320 abortions or 18% of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) - at the time represented the lowest rate ever observed in the U.S.

Meanwhile polls have consistently reported a majority of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Even in Tennessee in 2019, 51% of us told Vanderbilt pollsters that Roe v. Wade's establishment of legalized abortion was the right decision, while 42% said it was not. And it wasn't just women who responded to those polls. Apparently men have taken stock of child support costs - roughly 15% to a quarter of their income.

Elections matter. Both in our state houses and in Washington, D.C., where this Republican-stacked Supreme Court will try - without stating it this way - to make women go back to being subordinate, second-class citizens.

News flash. Women will not go back.

There's another old adage that applies here: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.