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Wed May 24, 2023, 06:06 PM

Conservative attacks on US abortion and trans healthcare come from the same


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On Monday, Jim Pillen, the Republican governor of Nebraska, signed a law that bans abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy and restricts gender-affirming care for anyone under 19. The ban on trans medical care takes effect in October and the abortion ban goes into effect immediately. And so Nebraska has become the latest state to determine through law what might have once been determined by the more pliable tools of custom or imagination: the way that the sexed body a person is born with shapes the kind of life they can live.

Be it through forced pregnancy or prohibited transition, the state of Nebraska now claims the right to determine what its citizens will do with their sexed bodies – what those bodies will look like, how they will function and what they will mean. It is a part of the right’s ongoing project to roll back the victories of the feminist and gay rights movements, to re-establish the dominance of men in public life, to narrow possibilities for difference and expression and to inscribe in law a firm definition and hierarchy of gender: that people are either men or women and that men are better.

They’re not alone. Abortion bans have been proliferating wildly in the year since the US supreme court eliminated the right in their Dobbs decision, declaring that any state can compel women to remain pregnant, and creating different, lesser entitlements to bodily freedom and self-determination based on sex. But as the abortion bans have spread like an infection across the American south, midwest, and mountain west, they have been accompanied by a related political disease: laws seeking to prohibit minors and sometimes adults, from accessing medical treatments that facilitate gender transitions.

Twenty-five states have enacted pre-viability abortion bans since Roe was overturned last summer, although in some states, like Iowa and Montana, abortion has remained legal pending judicial stays. Meanwhile, 20 states now ban gender-affirming care for minors, with a rush of bills being introduced over the past months. In addition to Nebraska, a slew of states have passed transition-care bans in 2023, including Utah, Mississippi, South Dakota, Iowa, Tennessee and Florida. Texas is soon to join them.


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