By 2018, every person, including children, who walks into a public restroom in the state of Oklahoma will be greeted by a “pro-life” sign meant to shame women into carrying unwanted pregnancies to full-term. This past June, Governor Mary Fallin signed The Humanity of the Unborn Child Act into law which requires the ridiculous signs to be posted in every restroom (including schools) licensed under the Oklahoma Department of Health (DHS).
The propaganda that will greet children when they walk into their school bathrooms will read:
“There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you carry your child to term and assist you after your child is born, whether you keep your child or place him or her for adoption. The state of Oklahoma strongly urges you to contact them if you are pregnant.”
In addition to the asinine bathroom signs, anti-abortion classes will be mandatory for all high school students (unless their parents opt them out). The law directs,”the State Department of Education to establish, operate and maintain a public information program to educate the public about the humanity of a child in utero.” In other words, all high school students will be taught the Christian belief that life begins at conception. The students will not be taught that doctors and scientists are largely in agreement that life begins when a fetus is viable outside of the womb because who cares about actual science when there’s religious dogma to push?
Spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice Misty Foley McKenna is appalled by the state’s attack on reproductive health and issued a statement saying:
“As our states budget dwindles, we would love to see our lawmakers address the real issues that Oklahoma families face such as childcare, healthcare, and safe neighborhoods. For some reason, our state lawmakers continue to waste precious resources on attempts to undermine safe access to abortion care.”
Indeed. The signs alone will cost upwards of $2 million and the fiscally conservative, small business-loving Republicans haven’t designated any state money to help hospitals, restaurants and schools pay for them. This lack of funding will place the financial burden of the law’s implementation on counties and small businesses.
Republicans would like us to believe that the new law will reduce the number of abortions in the state but like with almost all of their anti-abortion measures, there is no evidence to support that claim. The reality is that the only proven method for reducing the need for abortion services have been providing comprehensive sexual education and affordable birth control, the very things that “pro-life” Republicans are fiercely opposed to. Why? Because their real goal is to punish women for having the audacity to engage in sexual intercourse for pleasure.
The completely discredited foundation of abstinence-only education is built on the premise that if a woman doesn’t want to have a baby, then she shouldn’t have sex. Period. The implication being, of course, that if she does have sex and gets pregnant, she should be forced to care for a child as punishment for her “sin”. The Republican Party has waged a war on women, not because of God or because they want to save babies, but because they are misogynistic assholes. Plain and simple.
Oklahoma’s misguided attempt to shame women is time and money better spent on programs to help them avoid an unwanted pregnancy in the first place. But that’s not nearly as gratifying as stripping them of their agency and that’s the entire point of this exercise.