An outlandish website called “Fight for the 48” is stoking outrage among people who think it represents a real position.
This evening, a disturbing piece of information crossed my Twitter feed. An extremely trolly website called “fightforthe48.com” is making the rounds on social media, purporting to represent an organization dedicated to fighting for the right to kill a baby for up to 48 hours after birth.
If this premise sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is, and much of the copy on the website reads like tasteless, albeit obvious satire. “Being a mother is the hardest job in the world,” it proclaims. “A job so hard that it can require up to 9 months and 48 hours to accept.” Other sections refer to the newborn as an organism: “What if the expectant mother gives birth, but only upon visually seeing the organism does she come to the full realization of the responsibility placed upon her? A responsibility that in many cases is dictated by men or the patriarchy!”
The website’s clumsy, over-the-top uses of man-hating “feminist” jargon are the biggest giveaways that it was written by someone who actually loathes “feminists.” And yet there are many people sharing it on Facebook—and even arguing about it as though they believe it’s real.
Meanwhile, the website’s links point to a variety of organizations like the National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood, and even the office of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—all entities that are frequent targets for anti-choice outrage, and which clearly have nothing to do with this website.
It’s been a rough year for people who don’t believe it’s the government’s place to force people to give birth. Since the beginning of 2019, five states have passed restrictive new abortion laws. Most recently, Alabama passed a law that effectively bans nearly all abortions — with no exceptions for rape or incest — and makes the act of providing an abortion a first degree felony. This law is so strict that even arch-conservatives like Pat Robertson and Tomi Lahren have argued against it. As others have pointed out, this escalating activity seems deliberately geared toward mounting a decisive challenge to Roe v. Wade.
According to a recent CBS News poll, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping Roe v. Wade as is. But a significant contingent of the 28% of Americans who would like to see it overturned feel very strongly, and for this reason, abortion is among the most deeply divisive political issues in the so-called Culture War. (For an overview of the history of abortion as a political wedge issue in the US, I recommend the Netflix documentary Reversing Roe.)
To add a layer of complexity to an already fraught issue, there is a disturbing trend of deliberate, bad faith mischaracterizations of the pro-choice position. For instance, at a rally in April, Donald Trump made the claim that doctors and mothers are conspiring to execute newborns, a statement that is patently false.
In this context, “fightforthe48” takes on even more sinister undertones, as it appears to be part of a larger trend of stoking hateful outrage toward democrats and feminists by spreading bald-faced lies about what it is that pro-choice activists are actually fighting for.
The person I learned about this website from on Twitter has some generous words for his personal acquaintances who saw it and were fooled into believing that it represents an actual pro-choice position: “there should be no shame; we’ve all believed fake stuff at one time or another.”
To that, however, I will add this: If you find yourself demonizing your political opponents by pretending they believe things that literally no one believes, at a certain point it might be worthwhile to ask yourself why you need to dramatically misconstrue what the other side is thinking in the first place.