Our VoiceImmigration

Attack on the 14th Amendment = Attack on Women’s Rights

Jessica Acee • Sep 20, 2010
Favianna Women

Photo by Favianna Rodriguez

Where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter.

- Sojourner Truth

The 14th amendment was written and enacted to give full rights to former slaves.  It is integral to the civil rights of African Americans and women and is a crucial facet of American identity.

Many reproductive rights laws and rulings have been based on the 14th amendment, including the seminal Roe v. Wade case that guaranteed women’s reproductive choice by based on right of personal privacy in the Due Process Clause of the 14th amendment.

Now the Tanton Network is leading the fight against the 14th amendment. The Network is made up of anti-immigrant organizations including Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a recognized hate group, and was founded by white nationalist John Tanton.  This network has been instrumental in the passage of anti-immigrant legislation across the country.

President of FAIR, Dan Stein, doesn’t seem to value the civil and human rights gains of the 14th amendment. “We should not allow language from 1868 to enslave our thinking…in the 21st century,” Stein said.  Nice choice of words, Stein.

He’s got company.  Fellow Tanton Network colleague and a lawyer with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, Kris Kobach is helping State Legislators for Legal Immigration member Russell Pearce to draft legislation in AZ that would eliminate birthright citizenship in the state.

These attacks on the 14th amendment specifically target women, and mostly women of color, by saying that a pregnant woman’s worth is determined exclusively by the contents of her uterus.

Barbara Coe of the anti-immigrant group California Coalition for Immigration Reform was quoted in the LA Times saying, “Illegals and their children are costing the state billions of dollars. It’s invasion by birth canal.”

Anti-immigrant politicians and others equate women with livestock, animals like horses, that give birth and literally “drop” their babies to the ground, as the women are accused of doing.

The idea of controlling whose babies get to be American citizens and in turn, which women get to give birth here is a disturbing theme in the attacks on the 14th amendment.

It is equally unsettling because, as states and the federal government have expanded the rights of fetuses, women’s constitutional rights are violated when the justice system treats women unequally due to their condition of being pregnant.

Recent attacks on the 14th amendment are not only degrading to our nation and particularly insulting to immigrants and African Americans, but also should alarm women across the country.  A growing racket among us would like to see women as no more than incubators for the babies they may or may not want as American citizens.

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