Alyssa Milano reiterated her controversial call for women to go on a sex strike to protest Georgia’s extremely restrictive new abortion law, which is set to take effect next year.
In a CNN op-ed published on Monday and co-written with Waleisah Wilson, the actress and activist acknowledged the “mixed reaction” to her position.
But, she wrote, “It got the country talking about the GOP’s undeniable war on women. And let’s face it, with so much going on every day in the news, sometimes we need an extreme response to get national attention.” (Abortion opponents argue such measures are about protecting pregnancies and not about targeting women.)
“Our reproductive rights are blatantly and systematically being stripped away before our very eyes,” Milano, 46, wrote in her column. “The time for national engagement on this issue is long overdue. We must collectively reject these restrictions on our basic human rights and dignity in every way that we can.”
On Friday, she called for women to stop having sex “until we get bodily autonomy back.”
Her message sparked almost immediate debate.
Critics said Milano’s proposed strike ignores the LGBTQ community, minorities, and sexual violence and supports, if inadvertently, a patriarchal view of the world — in which women’s bodies are something that have “value” only in relation to men.
“I know this is well-meaning but the WHOLE. ENTIRE. POINT. of these horrifying laws is to punish women for daring to have and enjoy non-procreative sex,” Andi Zeisler wrote on Twitter. “You think people who *already* believe women have no right to their own bodies are going to respect partners who say no?”
Zeisler continued: “You think people who *already* believe women have no right to their own bodies are going to respect partners who say no?”
Anti-gun violence activist Shannon Watts tweeted: “A #SexStrike won’t bring back our rights. Voting, supporting women candidates, running for office, and fighting like hell will.”
Meanwhile The View co-host Meghan McCain, who is against abortion, said on Monday’s show that “people like Alyssa Milano need to understand that women aren’t just one section of the population like her. I always feel like pro-life women are completely left out of conversations like this.”
Milano’s call to action came just days after Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, signed the so-called “heartbeat bill.” The law bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.
The ban will allow for legal abortions if the pregnancy seriously risks the health of the woman or if the fetus would not survive outside the womb, and it has exceptions for cases of incest and rape as long as the woman files a police report.
Emboldened by a more staunchly conservative majority on the Supreme Court, abortion opponents nationwide have pushed increasing restrictions hoping to force a reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Polling has consistently shown a majority of Americans support abortion access in most cases. But the issue is extremely divisive among different political and religious groups, including conservative women.
A legal challenge to Georgia’s new law is imminent, and the courts are expected to ultimately have to decide whether such a ban is unconstitutional.
On Monday, Milano expanded on her sex strike proposal in her CNN column. She wrote that the new Georgia law was not unique in America, pointing to similar restrictions being considered or already passed in places like Alabama and Ohio.
“A #SexStrike is another way for people who have the potential to get pregnant to call attention to this systematic onslaught and assert the power to change our own destinies,” she wrote.
“This flood of anti-abortion legislation is completely outrageous and an equally bold response is required,” she wrote. “A #SexStrike is a way to target straight, cisgender men so they may feel the physical consequences of our reproductive rights being systematically eliminated.”
Milano cited what she said were previous historical examples of successful sex strikes, arguing that “this form of protest has the potential to raise the issue far beyond the usual groups engaged in debates about reproductive health.”
In an opposing column for CNN on Monday, Peggy Drexler countered Milano, writing: “Taking a stand against restrictions on women’s reproductive, or any other, rights is important. But calling for everyone to do so in this way misses the point and risks alienating more people than it unites.”
“There are other ways to protest the Georgia law, including donating to Planned Parenthood or another organization working to protect women’s rights, calling your representatives, and voting, which too many people do not do,” Drexler wrote.
“Instead of withholding sex from the men in your lives, and from yourself, try talking to them about what’s at stake for women and why it matters to them, too.”