The recent leak of Justice Alito’s draft of an upcoming majority Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision — Planned Parenthood v. Casey — that largely maintained the right.

The draft reveals many things about our society and the place of gender in decision making, but at its root it is yet another affront to women‘s rights in this country. Vice President Kamala Harris demanded in her remarks at a gala for Emily’s List, “How dare they?!”

She continued, “Some Republican leaders are trying to weaponize the use of the law against women. How dare they tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body. How dare they try to stop her from determining her own future. How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms.”

Jarrett Renshaw, writing in Reuters, says, “Experts estimate that about one in four women will obtain an abortion in her lifetime, of whom 75% are low-income, 59% are already mothers, and 55% are experiencing disruptive life events such as losing a job.”

Alito eviscerates Roe, arguing that the 1973 abortion rights ruling was “ill-conceived” and “deeply flawed,” and invented a right mentioned nowhere in the Constitution and that unwisely sought to wrench the contentious issue away from the political branches of government. Does this argument imply that rights in the 21st century must be explicitly stated in a document written more than 200 years ago? What about contraception, interracial marriage, marriage equality? There are countless medical, scientific and cultural developments that are part of our current way of life that did not exist during our nation’s founding.

But the real issue here is the lack of empathy on the part of the court’s majority for the rights of women and how they are treated by our judicial system. There is no exception in this draft for rape or incest. There is no quarter given to the lived experience of poor or marginalized women who are suddenly presented with limitations on their bodily autonomy—limitations, it must be said, overwhelmingly decided by male legislators.

We can deflect this development with sidebar arguments about the source of the leak, or the deception on the power of precedent as championed by those who “auditioned” for the position of Supreme Court Justice, or we can talk about the half century of organizing efforts among Republicans who sought to overturn Roe v. Wade. But all this pales before what this decision, as portrayed in the 98-page leak, says about a woman’s right to control her own body and its implicit racism and classism that leaves poor women and women of color even further marginalized.

It is not as if the role of women in our society has not been in the headlines of late. The #MeToo movement demonstrated how notoriously women in the workplace have been demeaned and dismissed. During the pandemic, we were in awe of the courage displayed by “essential workers,” so many of whom are women. And when our schools closed, countless moms added the extraordinary responsibilities from teaching IT to serving as mental health counselors for their kids as Covid shuttered our schools for months at a time. And yet, as a society, we still fail to fully empathize with women or support them at the most basic level—the freedom to fully determine their future. Instead, as this draft leak reveals, they are forced to relinquish control over their bodies to (again, mostly male) legislators who often have political agendas that lie far beyond what is best for women and families. We are staring into a future of government ordered pregnancies.

Procreative sex involves two participants—male and female. Yet the upcoming Supreme Court decision alleged in this draft leak places responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy solely on the woman. What about the man? What price is paid for his involvement in the act that created the fetus? What is a woman to do? Those who are privileged will find a way to work around the gutting of Roe, but those who cannot afford to take time off from work, or who have no access to expensive transportation or who cannot, for a myriad of reasons, navigate the often labyrinthian health care system in this country, will be left to carry a pregnancy to term because government officials declare that she must. Forced pregnancies will become the law of the land. We have not even begun to consider the unintended consequences of this Supreme Court decision.

One of the bedrock principles of conservative thought is that “big government” should not invade the private lives of individuals. The question this leaked draft begs is whether this principle applies only to men. In one of the most personal decisions a woman can make, the Supreme Court has now removed an option that has been a constitutional right for half a century and determined that if she becomes pregnant, she must carry the government mandated pregnancy to term. Once again, we have made women bear the brunt of our social contract in a deadly disproportional way.

2 thoughts on “Blame the Woman, Again

  1. Let’s dive deep into reasons a quarter of Americans want to end Roe vs. Wade.
    Many, like my evangelical Aunt, widow of Baptist missionary probably hold life starts at conception.
    We need to have good ethical and scientific counters to that.
    Many misconstrue libertarianism and forget that they are advocating the government intrude into highly
    personal and doctor-patient and woman-men relationships. This we need to point out.
    We should not dignify the term “pro life” unless advocates also support better child care, health services for all, gun control, and other non profit and governmental aids for building a strong family. “Pro birth” would be the correct term otherwise.
    Further, big thinkers see ending abortion as a way to reassert the patriarchy, which in recent decades, has been widely challenged and shown for the oppressive system it is.
    Finally, the racist and classist impact of ending Roe should be pointed out.
    In the meantime, those of living in a non-theocratic, non Trumpist state should bolster our laws and welcome visitors seeking health services.
    Hopefully, if we are successful in making our arguments, like Ireland which has liberalized abortion and gay rights after the RC church lost all moral authority from its enslaving of unwed mothers and covering for predator Priests, the same can happen to the religious right, whether “Christian” or Muslim or Jewish. Then we can renew our centuries long struggle to make this a more perfect union for everyone.

  2. According to the most recent federal data, there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. They range in age from infants to 21 years old (in some states). The average age of a child in foster care is more than 8 years old, and there are slightly more boys than girls.

    About the children – AdoptUSKids › children-in-foster-care › ab…

    If you are concerned about saving a life, please start with these 400,000 lives that need taking care of.

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