"A TREMENDOUS sense of mourning accompanied by an indescribable rage” was how former Texas state senator Wendy Davis described her feelings on Wednesday evening, as the US Supreme Court voted to let Texas’s draconian new abortion law stand.

The Democrat spent her political career fighting against a range of restrictions to abortion rights, but the legislation passed in her home state this week goes far beyond the set of measures that once inspired her to launch into a 13-hour filibuster to derail a bill. Those measures – which ultimately passed at a later stage – amounted to a creeping, insidious narrowing of legal options. That was merely a warning shot for what was to follow.

The so-called Heartbeat Act effectively bans abortion in the state, and leaves anyone performing an abortion vulnerable to being sued by anyone who fancies suing them. “Roll-back of rights” is too passive, too mild a description for this deliberate assault on women’s bodily autonomy.

READ MORE: Terror of Afghans in Scotland: 'We feel grief for what's going to happen'

“Rolling back” is something helpful a supermarket does to the price of everyday essentials. To roll back the years is to take a pleasurable trip down memory lane. The language risks implying some kind of gravitational correction; a consequence of the laws of physics rather than deliberate human intervention.

If it were the rights of men – to vote, to own property, to healthcare – that were being stripped away, I doubt it would be framed in terms of a “roll back” to Edwardian or feudal times.

Just because the Roe vs Wade ruling was passed down in living memory, that doesn’t mean there’s anything inevitable about progress being reversed and women being controlled and subjugated. And just because those who oppose women’s right to choose call themselves “pro-life”, that certainly does not mean they are entitled to lecture anyone else on human dignity.

A “roll back” does not begin to adequately describe the situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban regained control. Claims that girls will be allowed to attend school and women university have been met with extreme scepticism given the group’s oppressive and violent interpretation of Islamic rule, and the suggestion this week that women will be able to keep working for the Afghan government is at odds with the Taliban last month ordering women workers to stay at home, “temporarily”, supposedly for their own safety. Scenes of women and children being beaten and whipped in the streets by Taliban fighters will do nothing to dispel the fear that women will be stripped of all the rights they had gained since the US/UK invasion in 2001.

The National:

Women’s liberation was not, of course, the aim of the invasion of Afghanistan, nor was it the result, even in the short-term. Did some women and girls gain some freedoms? Yes, and it’s heartbreaking to read and hear of them disappearing from the streets, the workplaces, the classrooms. But the astonishingly brave and articulate women who have given defiant interviews with the western media since the Taliban takeover are not representative of the wider female population.

In summer 2018 Unicef reported that one in three Afghan girls were married before their 18th birthday, and fewer than 20% of girls under 15 were literate. Of the 3.7 million children who were not in school, 60% were girls. An estimated 87% of Afghan women experience domestic abuse, to which the criminal justice system has no response, and 80% of suicide attempts are by women.

The specific horrors facing these women are almost unimaginable. Many will have no memory of the previous era of Taliban rule, as nearly 70% of the Afghan population is under 25 years old. Yesterday, in a demonstration of incredible bravery, dozens of women took to the streets of Herat to stage a protest in defence of their rights, saying they were willing to wear burqas if it meant girls could still attend school.

Compared to the women of Afghanistan, the women of Texas are liberated. For a start, they have equal voting rights to men, and indeed large numbers of them voted for Governor Greg Abbott, who signed the “Heatbeat Act” into law in May (Abbott defeated Wendy Davis in the governor race of 2014, with nearly 60% of the vote). But that doesn’t mean individual women must simply accept freedoms being snatched from them with the stroke of a pen, or that they should consider themselves too privileged, in global comparison, to have anything to complain about.

Compared to the women of Texas, the women of the UK are liberated, and while protests spring up from time to time (such as in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard), there is currently no unified women’s rights movement to guard against “roll-back”. There’s a worrying sense that women in countries like ours have nothing to complain about really, that this is the most equality we are ever going to get, that talk of “women’s liberation” is outmoded and embarrassing and that the best thing about feminism is that you can choose your own principles like sweeties from a pick ‘n’ mix.

It’s possible to feel grateful to live in Scotland rather than Afghanistan while also recognising that women around the world have struggles in common, particularly when it comes to domestic abuse and sexual violence and woefully inadequate criminal justice responses to them.

Hard-won rights and freedoms can be lost, whether at the barrel of a gun, the stroke of a pen, or a sudden slap from an intimate partner. There is no room for complacency.