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Stop and Frisk: The New Pregnancy Test
Recently in Llano, a hyperconservative town of 3,400 “deep in Texas hill country,” local residents jammed into city hall, with some forced to remain out in the street, as the city council debated whether to enact an ordinance making it illegal for anyone to drive through Llano County transporting either themselves or another person to obtain an abortion. Two other localities in Texas had already passed similar laws. Their goal was to “block off the main arteries out of Texas and keep pregnant women hemmed within the confines of their antiabortion state.”
Ever since abortion was outlawed in Texas in July 2022, many women, generally those lacking the means for more sophisticated travel, have been forced to drive hundreds of miles to New Mexico, where the procedure remains legal. Proponents in Llano insisted the county’s good, God-fearing citizens, 80% of whom had voted for that noted humanitarian, Donald Trump, had a duty to “fight the murders,” this from people who favor carrying any variety of weaponry they choose and shooting down on sight anyone they deem a threat.
The proposed ordinance would allow any private citizen to sue a person or organization they suspected of using public roads for such an unwholesome purpose, thus, in true Stalinist spirit, transferring the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused.
And how, one wonders, will be these suspicions be aroused? Since county of origin does not appear on Texas license plates, will local authorities, or perhaps teams of vigilantes, stop every car or truck they don’t recognize, demand medical proof that no woman inside is expecting, and then sue any that are? Or perhaps Llano could institute a lottery where some vehicles are allowed to drive unimpeded through the county while others are subjected to whatever scrutiny local officials mandate. Or better yet, they could put toll booths on county roads, manned by antiabortion activists equipped with those little stick pregnancy tests, and require every woman driving through to provide the requisite sample fluid. One hopes that if this option is chosen, toilet facilities will be provided as well.
If this entire notion seems harebrained, it surely is. But it is also potentially disastrous, especially for the poor, until—or more accurately unless, since in the current environment there are no sure things—it is declared unconstitutional.
In addition, it raises the question of what is really going on here. Since when did abortion, the abolition of which was once demanded almost solely by Catholics, become such a vital issue in small towns in evangelical west Texas?
It isn’t. Initiatives such as this are not really about abortion at all, or any other substantive issue.
They are about revenge, getting even, the same motives that drove vast segments of the rural working class, once one of the Democratic Party’s staunchest constituencies, into the arms of Donald Trump.
The citizens of Llano epitomize the vast swath of Americans that feel sneered at by the elites, who seem to think Black lives matter but not theirs; that a transgender youth’s right to use the bathroom of choice is more important than providing good jobs and the ability to make a go of it against the dual plagues of globalism and opioid addiction; that have abandoned as valueless, even laughable, the fundamental virtues of hard work and Godliness that were once the very foundation of the American ethos.
Most significantly, anyone who spends any time at all on conservative media cannot help but recognize that rural Americans, like those who jammed into Llano city hall, feel as if they were forced to grit their teeth and endure being dismissed as no longer the backbone of America, but rather its afterthought, then made to accept whatever treatment and rules were foisted on them by pompous liberals and sniveling government bureaucrats.
And now, after decades of being told what they can and cannot do, it is their turn. And they intend to make the most of it, all in the name of restoring the America they are convinced was stolen from them.
Obviously, this is not to say any of these feelings of persecution are justified. People like those in Llano have conveniently forgotten all the school budgets they voted down, preventing their children from acquiring the skills needed in the electronic age; all the environmental policies they opposed; all the government programs they denounced as socialism, when it was these very programs that provided them basic medical care, food safety, protection against toxic waste, and kept them from falling into even more dire straits.
But not too many look back, blame themselves for mistakes, and then move to correct them. Far easier to blame someone else and then try to get even, despite that sometimes, to quote what mothers often say to six-year-olds, they “are cutting of their nose to spite their face.”
Spending all that time and energy on initiatives like stop-and-frisk abortion prevention, while their doctors leave, their children fall farther behind in school, their soil becomes more barren, and their life expectancy continues to decrease will hardly solve their problems.
Nor will it solve the nation’s.
Early in Trump’s presidency, it was popular on the left to assume that he had conned his supporters into backing him, that they would soon come to regret putting their faith in a man who only cared about himself and his net worth and would sell out anyone else in the blink of an eye.
But they missed the point. Trump did not con the rural working class—he liberated them. And now they will continue to attack their perceived enemies until they are stopped.
And stopped they must be if those American flags they are so fond of posing next to, behind, or in front of, are to have any meaning at all.
My thanks to Don Billings for “Stop and Frisk,” a very nice title indeed.