Saturday, September 23

US anti-abortion extremists are already waging war on IVF | Arwa Mahdawi

Are Republicans coming for IVF?

Going through fertility treatment isn’t fun at the best of times: it’s expensive, invasive and emotionally exhausting. Ever since Roe v Wade was overturned earlier this year, however, getting fertility treatments in the US has become exponentially more stressful; the end of Roe triggered a spate of new personhood bills in Republican states which define a fertilized egg or embryo as a legal human entity. If you know anything about in vitro fertilization (IVF), which I’m not sure any of the men drafting these personhood bills do, you’ll immediately know that makes IVF hugely complex. Numerous embryos are usually created during the IVF process as not all will be genetically viable. Unviable embryos, along with embryos that aren’t donated or frozen for later use, will be disposed. If these collections of cells are considered people then, according to the personhood laws, you’ve committed a crime by disposing of them.

Hang on a second, you might say. If you have the gall to call yourself “pro-life” then shouldn’t you be making it easier for people who desperately want children to be able to have them? Anti-abortion extremists may be a bunch of raging hypocrites who have demonstrated time and time again that they don’t care about the sanctity of life, they just care about controlling women, but surely they’re not going to wage war on IVF?

Sara Chambers, a 25-year-old from Tennessee who is currently going through IVF, had this very question. Tennessee is one of the most restrictive states when it comes to reproductive rights: the disingenuously named Human Life Protection Act essentially outlaws abortion and declares that life begins at fertilization not implantation. Wondering what the law meant for her treatment of her, Chambers emailed her her representative, Ryan Williams, asking whether she could discard her embryos without it being considered an abortion.

Williams’s reply? hell no. “Life does begin at conception either in the womb or in the IVF clinic,” Williams told her Chambers in an email she shared on a viral TikTok video; if a doctor got rid of those embryos it would be a crime. Williams couldn’t resist a little moralizing also. “I admit it is an unusual question for someone who struggled to have children and wants children to ask the question ‘can I discard my embryos’ but I hope this answers your questions,” he said.

In her TikTok video Chambers said she felt judged by Williams’s reply. She also felt scared about her options. “I don’t want to transfer embryos that I know I have to miscarry, I want to save myself that heartache,” Chambers said. “And I don’t want to have 20 children.”

Williams may be just one politician but, make no mistake, he’s no outlier when it comes to this issue. Anti-abortion extremists aren’t going to wage war on IVF, they’re already doing so. “It’s hard for people to fathom that this is actually happening,” Chambers told the feminist journalist Jessica Valenti. “This is real, and it’s happening right now.” Republicans have made it very clear that they aren’t going to stop at just overturning abortion: they’re coming for birth control and fertility treatments. They won’t be happy until they’ve taken away every aspect of women’s reproductive autonomy.

Protests erupt in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini

The 22-year-old’s death in Iranian police custody has set off protests all over the country and could “be the spark that ignites Iran around women’s rights”. Amini was allegedly arrested by the country’s morality police for showing her hair and breaking the laws on wearing a hijab; her father de ella has said she was beaten to death in custody. The backlash has been immense; British Iranian actor Omid Djalili has called it “Iran’s George Floyd” moment.

CNN says Iran’s president tried to make a hijab a condition for interview

An interview between CNN’s chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, and the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, was canceled after Amanpour refused to wear a hijab. It seems that Raisi wanted to capture an image of New York-based Amanpour wearing a hijab to use as propaganda – a signal to women protesting back in Iran. Good for Amanpour on refusing to let herself be used that way.

Josh Hawley thinks there’s only one gender

in to fundraising email, the conservative lawmaker and self-proclaimed expert on manliness said that teaching children that “more than one gender” exists is “transgender propaganda”. Bit of a Freudian slip there, Josh. Why not just come out and say directly that you don’t think women are people?

‘How many women were abused to make that Tesla?’

Seven women are suing Elon Musk’s electric car company alleging sexual harassment.

How Russia’s trolls undermined the US Women’s March movement

The New York Times has a must-read report on how Russia’s Internet Research Agency used online trolls to attack the Women’s March and fracture alliances on the left. The trolls tested out different messages, but the best performing attacks were on Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist who wears a hijab. One hundred and fifty-two different Russian accounts produced material on Sarsour, upending her life and damaging her reputation.

The week in poultryarchy

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning: don’t cook chicken in NyQuil or other cough and cold medicine. Why would anyone do that in the first place? Because of a TikTok food challenge, according to the FDA. Media outlets jumped all over the warning. Crazy kids are all eating poisonous chicken for TikTok Likes is a tempting narrative after all. But it would appear that rumors of a NyQuil chicken challenge are grossly exaggerated. As Eater noted: “NyQuil chicken proves one of our worst collective tendencies online: to see something, take it at face value, and amplify it … What we ultimately do is bring a sense of legitimacy to that thing – if enough news sites tell you not to cook NyQuil chicken, it might start to seem like lots of people are actually cooking NyQuil chicken.” (OK, but also, please don’t cook NyQuil chicken.)

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