What will American women do now? Will they win solidarity among themselves, as they have always won in Italy with regard to abortion, holding together Catholics and agnostics, left-wing and right-wing women in defence of law 194/78? Or will they settle into opposing camps, to put it mildly, the quasi-civil war underway in the United States? The midterm elections in November, which saw the Republicans as favourites, will be the first test: how many female voters, whether disgruntled or very disgruntled with the Biden administration obsessed with trans rights and gender politics, will still decide to support the Democrats after yesterday's ruling? How many female Republicans will give up their party support in protest of the Supreme Court decision? Women could form the strong core of that moderate front that cannot find political expression in the US.
If it is true that American conservatives had the November midterm almost in their pocket- alarming signal for Democrats to have lost Virginia last November- the Supreme Court decision overruling Roe v. Wade, effectively making abortion illegal in at least half of the US states, could put everything back in discussion.
American citizens have many reasons to be unhappy with the Biden-Harris administration, starting with - to stay on the subject of rights - the presidential obsession with trans people and gender identity. But When you say 'abortion' you touch a very sensitive issue that binds women -women's bodies, which reappear on stage- in a primary and instinctive solidarity, recalling the painful and almost genealogical memory of the many who over the centuries have risked their skins or left it behind because they did not want a child, or could not, or had been left alone as has happened to so many.
How many American Republican voters -and probably voters as well- will revise their voting intentions after the Supreme Court's slap in the face?
As Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, once wrote, 'there is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women': and that is exactly the key to understanding why in our country many Catholic women while saying 'I would never do it' tenaciously supported a law, 194/78, which did not establish the 'right to abortion' but guaranteed life and health of one of their kind who decided to terminate a pregnancy.
Will this also apply to the United States after the shock verdict? Will the proximity of women produce political shifts?
From this point of view Italy is very different from America. Here we have never seen assaults on abortion clinics or truculent demonstrations such as those that have not ceased to follow one another in the almost 50 years of Roe vs. Wade. Even the Italian pro-lifers - who have recently become more extremist, fierce and determined to obtain the abolition of law 194, driven by the American wind - have always moved with relative restraint.
In the USA, the abortion issue has never ceased to be an open wound also for the simple but very good reason that American pro-lifers have found a political interlocutor in the Republican Party, particularly from the Trump presidency onwards when the confrontation between identity alignments on this and almost all issues became head-on, bordering on civil war, and with no possibility of mediation.
In Italy, on the other hand, there is not a single party that would take up the battle against law 194: Matteo Salvini has always been clear, 'the 194 is not to be touched', and even Giorgia Meloni has always guaranteed her support for the current law.
The Italian pro-life fundamentalist minority does not have a political interlocutor: an important difference between us and them that makes it unimaginable that the resounding US news will soon spill over into Italy.
The fact remains that even if the 'right' to abortion lapses in half of America abortions will continue to exist and remain an issue to be dealt with: with abortion tourism, for those who can afford it (a few) and forcing all the others to make do, particularly Hispanics and African-Americans, possibly with recourse to the abortion pill which, however - let us not forget - in a certain percentage of cases requires subsequent hospitalisation (always for those with health insurance).
The abortion rate does not decrease under the law. And the open wound will bleed even more: nice result.
Marina Terragni (published in National Newspaper 25 June 2022)