Abortion rights activists gather at the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington, Indiana

Abortion rights activists gather at the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington, Indiana, for a protest vigil a few hours before the state's near total abortion ban went into effect on September 15, 2022.

(Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Cancel Culture, GOP Style

What far-right Republicans don’t seem to realize is that prohibition does not work.

Republican lawmakers across America are increasingly introducing bills that prohibit rights that many Americans assumed were enshrined in law. The laws introduced by the Republicans have a domino effect.

It started with the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women's HealthOrganization decision, in which the Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 decision in which the court ruled that the Constitution of the United States generally protected a right to have an abortion. The decision struck down many state abortion laws. Republican legislators reacted by making prohibitions to abortion in their states. Fourteen Republican states invoked six-week term limits (most women do not know they are pregnant at six weeks) and often ignored provisions for incest and rape.

Thousands of American women, Republicans and Democrats, had their previous rights curtailed. There were conservatively 620,327 abortions in America in 2020, according to the CDC.

From climate change to the coronavirus pandemic, far-right Republicans consistently refuse to accept basic science and pan intellectualism as elitist or made-up.

Republican then extrapolated the Dobbs decision to all embryos, including those used in IVF (in vitro fertilization).

On February 16, Alabama's Republican dominated State Court ruled that frozen embryos have the same rights as children, and people can be held liable for destroying them ( Le Page/ Burdick-Aysenne v. The Center for Reproductive Medicine). While it did not completely ban IVF, it created a legal headache for clinics, and some pulled their services. Many Republicans nationwide, including leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, quickly rushed to declare that this was not official GOP policy. Many falsely claimed this was not related to the Dobbs decision; however, the Alabama court repeatedly cited Dobbs in its ruling.

This coincided with their attacks on LGBTQ+ people.

On March 8, 2022, Republicans in Florida passed the Parental Rights in Education Act, commonly referred to as the "Don't Say Gay" law. The law contains sections which prohibit public schools from having "classroom discussion" or giving "classroom instruction" about sexual orientation or gender identity.

Originally it was to apply to children up to third grade, but Republicans increased this to grade 12 in a later amendment ( Florida House Bill 1069). Using deliberately vague and broad provisions it has the potential to undercut the equal dignity of LGBTQ+ people and have the effect of stigmatizing and silencing LGBTQ+ teachers and students.

It also and runs afoul of the First Amendment, according to the American Bar Association. Twenty other Republican states introduced versions of the law.

This led to books being banned in Florida schools.

Books included the Harry Potter series, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Kite Runner, Anne Frank's Diary, Go Ask Alice, The Color Purple, and even the children's poetry collection A Light in the Attic. While these books may cause offence to some people, the schools that banned them cannot prove any identifiable harm. Schools and libraries in Mississippi, Arkansas, Ohio, and Tennessee started culling books. Several parents claim the books contain subjects such as incest, rape, and extreme violence—so does the Bible, but they have no plans to ban that.

The books banned are not just related to culture, but also to science.

From climate change to the coronavirus pandemic, far-right Republicans consistently refuse to accept basic science and pan intellectualism as elitist or made-up. Their attacks on vaccinations led to the first increase in measles outbreaks in decades. They consistently denigrate scientists, defund scientific research by organizations such as NASA, and edit bits they don't like out of textbooks and publish their own versions.

For example, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee published an educational magazine aimed at children titled "The Kids Guide to the Truth About Climate Change," which some education advocates denounced as ideological propaganda. The magazine asserts that climate change is occurring as part of the planet's natural cycle and ignores the scientific evidence that shows that temperatures warmed 10 times faster in the last century than they did in the previous 5,000 years—a trend change that corresponds with industrialization and fossil fuel use.

Books based on extensive scientific research on puberty, such as Where Did I Come From? and What's Happening to My Body? were also banned.

What far-right Republicans don't seem to realize is that prohibition does not work. Banning abortion doesn't stop people from getting them. It just stops women from getting safe abortions. LGBTQ+ people are not going away—they make up over 7% of the U.S. population. Banning a controversial book doesn't make its subject disappear. Banning books only makes them more sought after. For children about to face puberty, it is better to get information from a book rather than from other children, or online pornography.

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