Actress Alyssa Milano at a protest against Trump administration policy in Manhattan in 2017. (Caro Allegri/Reuters)

In response to a Georgia law prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which usually occurs after about six weeks of pregnancy — actress and progressive activist Alyssa Milano suggested that women practice abstinence until the bill is no longer in effect:

A few feminists and “male feminists” echoed Milano, suggesting that a “sex strike” would be an effective way for women to exercise their agency while their “reproductive rights” are being eliminated. A former congressional candidate in Florida made a similar argument yesterday morning, albeit a slightly more moderate one, calling on women to refrain from having sex with conservative men.

Milano’s suggestion is intriguing for at least a few reasons, not least of which is the fact that she’s urging women to exercise bodily autonomy as a means of proving that they are being denied the ability to do so. The abortion-rights movement spends an enormous amount of energy insisting that no one ever uses abortion as emergency contraception, yet here Milano is clearly admitting that’s the case. Not only that, but groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL base much of their activism on the assertion that abstinence education is entirely ineffective, and that birth-control methods, if used properly, will never result in an unwanted pregnancy that ends in abortion. But in articulating the rationale for her “sex strike,” Milano concedes the obvious fact that abstaining from sex is the only guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy and thus to avoid a situation where a woman wants an abortion.

Her campaign also exposes modern feminism’s deeply flawed view of the relationship between men and women, seeing sex first and foremost as a bargaining chip or form of power that women hold over men, as if it ought to function primarily or even solely as a reward for men that women should withhold as a means of getting what they want — affirming and promoting the very anti-woman premise that feminists claim to oppose. And, like the overwhelming majority of activists who champion expansive abortion rights, Milano entirely ignores the existence of pro-life women, including those who were involved in passing the Georgia heartbeat bill, who presumably won’t be swayed or affected whatsoever by this boycott.

Finally, there is considerable irony in the fact that, after five decades, feminism has come back around to where social conservatives were standing the entire time — but now they believe that, in pushing their “boycott,” they’re somehow being transgressive.