Tuesday Reads: War on Women

Good Morning!!

It has finally happened. Roe v Wade will be overturned, and women will be stripped of their constitutional right to bodily autonomy. Forced birth will be legal in 22 states as soon as the decision is announced. Women will die. This is what Hillary warned us about in 2016. And it’s not just women who will have their rights taken away. Roe v. Wade is based on the right to privacy, which also underlies decisions about civil rights like gay marriage, the right of same sex people to have sex in their own homes, the right of adults to have access to birth control, and the right of people of different races to marry.

As Dahlia Lithwick pointed out last year, we are not headed back to the way it was pre-Roe; this is going to be far worse than that. We are likely going to see laws establishing the “personhood” of fetuses. From the Slate article, Dec. 8, 2021

There has been a tendency, in the week since it became clear the U.S. Supreme Court will likely either uphold Mississippi’s unconstitutional 15-week abortion ban or overturn Roe v. Wade outright, to suggest that when this happens, America will return to the days “pre-Roe.” That is intended to mean, one assumes, that we will go back to a patchwork of laws in the various states, and see the grim return of women attempting to terminate their own pregnancies with sometimes lethal results as well as the backroom illegal abortions that were the norm before Roe became law. But it is not quite accurate to say this would be a simple return to life pre-Roe: If the boldest voices in the pro-life movement have their way, America would not so much be reverting to its pre-Roe past but slipping sideways into something that could be—believe it or not—much worse.

Michelle Goldberg made this point two years ago in the New York Times, after Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri passed a raft of (at the time) unthinkably punitive abortion bans immediately after Brett Kavanaugh was seated at the Supreme Court. As she wrote at the time, “it’s important to understand that we’re not necessarily facing a return to the past. The new wave of anti-abortion laws suggests that a post-Roe America won’t look like the country did before 1973, when the court case was decided. It will probably be worse.”

Anyone listening carefully to the newly ascendant views of abortion opponents can hear it—the talk of legal “fetal personhood” and of punishing mothers who endanger an embryo takes us into a new, uncharted, and theological realm that is quite different even from the status quo before Roe….

Prior to Roe, faith groups were hardly monolithic in their opposition to abortion. Many religious leaders stood firmly on the side of the health and welfare of mothers….But in the decades since, hard-line religious opposition to Roe has both solidified and moved the goal posts. Since 1984, the Republican Party platform has called for a constitutional amendment banning abortion nationwide. The ground has shifted.

In other words, this doesn’t necessarily end at “returning abortion to the states.” Talking to the New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner this week, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, talked about plans for a nationwide 15-week abortion ban in the years to come. Religious groups that oppose abortion now speak openly of a project set forth by scholars such as John Finnis, a professor emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, who argued in the Catholic journal First Things that legislators who wrote the 14th Amendment viewed unborn children as persons, such that unborn children would receive the full guarantees of equal protection and due process of the law under the 14th Amendment.

Yesterday, Lithwick wrote: The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Is Already Lost. Regardless of Roe falling, the leaks, and the Court’s disregard for the public it is supposed to serve, have already gone too far.

If the Supreme Court indeed strikes down Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Caseythis June, as the draft opinion leaked to and published by Politico tonight suggests it will, years of conventional wisdom about the court and its concerns for its own legitimacy will be proven wrong. Every single court watcher who spoke in terms of baby steps, incrementalism, or “chipping away” at one of the most vitally important precedents in modern history will have been wrong. Those who suggested that the court would never do something so huge and so polarizing just before the November midterms will have been wrong. And the people who assured us that Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were moderate centrists who cared deeply about the appearance of a non-ideological and thoughtful court, well yeah. They will have been wrong too.

If this draft opinion becomes precedent of the court, the results will be catastrophic for women, particularly for women in the states that will immediately make abortion unlawful, and in those places, particularly for young women, poor women, and black and brown women who will not have the time, resources, or ability to travel out of state. The court’s staggering lack of regard for its own legitimacy is exceeded only by its vicious disregard for the real consequences for real pregnant people who are 14 times more likely to die in childbirth than from terminating a pregnancy. The Mississippi law—the law that this opinion is upholding—has no exception for rape or incest. We will immediately see a raft of bans that give rights to fathers, including sexual assailants, and punish with ever more cruelty and violence women who miscarry or do harm to their fetuses. The days of pretending that women’s health and safety were of paramount concern are over.

Lithwick notes that the American people overwhelmingly support abortion rights, but the extremist on the Court simply don’t care.

…[I]n his draft opinion Justice Alito wants America to know he doesn’t care about voters’ feelings. “We cannot allow our decisions to be affected by any extraneous influences such as concern about the public’s reaction to our work,” Alito writes. “We do not pretend to know how our political system or society will respond to today’s decision overruling Roe and Casey. And even if we could foresee what will happen, we would have no authority to let that knowledge influence our decision.”

Ironically, whoever decided to leak the opinion cared very much about the political implications of the impending decision. It is one of the most brazenly political acts to ever come out of the court, actually. It is perhaps the most emphatic confirmation that there are simply no rules left at an institution that is supposed to be the one making the rules, but is instead currently under unprecedented public scrutiny for its very absence of binding rules. 

Lyz Lenz grew up in a right wing “christian” home and is very familiar with the attitudes of right wing “christian” extremists. She writes at her blog Men Yell at Me: This Was Always The Plan.

I grew up one of eight children. We were washed, dressed in coordinating jumpers and shirts, and trotted out on stage at church on Right to Life Sunday, where our mother would testify that we were an example of always choosing life.

We went to rallies, too. Bows in our hair, marching beneath the angry shouts and the ghostly, whale-like images of aborted fetuses that would haunt me at night as I tried to sleep

My whole life, I knew the plan. Vote for politicians who’d nominate justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. Abortion was murder. I heard this preached in churches; at Sunday dinners over brisket. I heard the plan at rallies for homeschoolers in D.C., where we’d lobby our senators for more rights for families — or so I was told.

I heard about the plan when, as a teen, I read fundraising fliers for Christian schools that would turn out a whole new generation of lawyers, lawyers with a Godly worldview, who’d overturn Roe v. Wade.

I heard about it again in 2016, when a nice lady from church smiled at me at school drop-off the day after Trump was elected. “I didn’t want to vote for him,” she whispered to me. I was hung over, and sick. “But he will put good judges in place to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

Later, when I wrote a book about Christianity and the Midwest, and then another about mythology and motherhood, people at book events, journalists in interviews and editors looking for a hot take would all ask me why people would vote for a candidate like Trump. “To overturn Roe,” I’d say. And they’d scoff. No, no. That can’t be it.

But it is. It’s always been the plan. And it’s never been a secret. The plan has been shouted at rallies. Held up on signs. It’s been plotted and spoken of and written about over and over. 

Click on the link to read the rest. It’s well worth your time.

This is from historian Heather Cox Richardson at her substack blog, Letters from an American: May 2, 2022.

Tonight, news broke of a leaked draft of what appears to be Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s majority decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing access to abortion as a constitutional right.

That news is an alarm like the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision declaring both that Black Americans had no rights that a white man was bound to respect and that Congress had no power to prohibit human enslavement in the territories. The Dred Scott decision left the question of enslavement not to the national majority, which wanted to prohibit it from western lands, but to state and territorial legislatures that limited voting to white men.

According to law professor and legal commentator Neal Katyal, the draft appears to be genuine and shows that in a preliminary vote, a majority of the court agreed to overturn Roe v. Wade. It takes a hard-line position, saying that states can criminalize abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest. This is a draft and could change before actually being handed down, but it has already stirred a backlash. As soon as the draft hit Politico, which published it, security put up fences around the Supreme Court in expectation of protesters and counterprotesters.

We are in a weird moment, in which Democrats are trying to shore up democracy while Republicans are actively working to undermine it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a statement after the draft leaked, calling the draft “one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history.” They noted that the justices lied to senators to get confirmed, saying they considered Roe v. Wade settled law, and are now—if the draft is confirmed—stripping away from American women a constitutional right they have held for 50 years.

Richardson ties together the Court’s likely decision to strip women of their rights to the Republican Party’s war on democracy. Read the whole thing at the link above.

Republicans know very well that 70 percent of American voters support abortion rights, so they are instead focusing on the leak instead of the prospect of women once again becoming second class citizens. The Daily Beast: Laura Ingraham Wants FBI to Hunt Down SCOTUS Leaker: ‘Give Me Your Phone!’

The FBI should launch an investigation to find the person responsible for leaking to the press a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Laura Ingraham said Monday. The leak, which is the first of its kind, should also spur Chief Justice John Roberts to act, she said. “It’s incumbent upon him to bring in every law clerk before him… or the FBI. ‘Give me your phone. We want all your accounts. We’ve got to do our own—look at every device you’ve ever used, and find out who did this.’” The Fox host claimed that “there are names floated out there” for possible leakers but declined to go into detail. Ingraham then said she dreaded the consequences—as others on Fox News did earlier in the night—of the leaker being celebrated by those on the left. “That’s the end of the court,” Ingraham predicted. “Clerks are never going to be able to have this role at the court that they have now. They’re never going to be able to have access to opinions. I don’t know what will happen to the court, period, if that’s the case.”

I’ve been assuming this was leaked by someone who is outraged by the Alito opinion, but check out this Twitter thread from a Yale law professor:

Read the rest of the thread on Twitter.

One more from Aaron Rupar at Public Notice: The very simple reason Republicans are railing against leaks instead of celebrating the seeming demise of Roe.

You’d think Republicans would be taking a big victory lap, considering ending abortion rights is something most of them have campaigned on since the Nixon administration. Instead, however, they’re focusing on railing against whoever leaked the decision, and bemoaning the death of norms.

“To violate an understanding that has held for the entire modern history of the Court — seeking to place outside political pressure on the Court and justices themselves — is dangerous, despicable, and damaging,” lamented Sen. Mike Lee in a statement….

“This is a blatant attempt to intimidate the Court through public pressure rather than reasoned argument,” tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz. “I hope my fellow former clerks and the entire legal community will join me in denouncing this egregious breach of trust.” [….]

“The Court should not abide this coordinated assault by the left,” added Sen. Josh Hawley in a tweet of his own. “Issue the decision now.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went as far as to suggest the leaker should be charged with a crime, even though legal experts say leaking a SCOTUS draft decision is not unlawful.

They are angry, because they know this decision goes against popular opinion.

Polls consistently show overturning Roe is opposed by a majority of between 58 and 70 percent of Americans….

And ending federal abortion rights isn’t just unpopular in blue states. According to Data for Progress, there isn’t a single state in the union where support for a federal ban on abortion — something antiabortion activists and Republicans are already talking about — has more than 30 percent support….

In short, while railing against abortion rights is a good way to rile up the Republican base, it doesn’t resonate with the general public. And that’s why Democrats are already expressing hope the SCOTUS draft decision could help them in the upcoming midterm elections.

That’s all I have the stomach for this morning. I expect there will be many more reactions forthcoming throughout the day and in the days and weeks to come.

42 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: War on Women”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The war on women is real. Take care of yourselves today, Sky Dancers.

    • NW Luna says:

      Ironically, we now we have a liberal SCOTUS judge who can’t define what a woman is.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      • NW Luna says:

        Too true, though I believe publicizing SCOTUS judges’ opinions doesn’t violate the judges’ privacy.

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. bostonboomer says:

  6. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      I and others all the way back to forever (1960s, 1970s?) have been making that argument.

      Nice to see lead White House ethics honchos catching up to the idea that women are people.

    • NW Luna says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      Excellent that she stresses the fact that private decisions are important to *everybody*.

      Returning to the full flowering of male white supremacy is going to require the end of contraception for women, the end of sex that doesn’t support male supremacy, the end of rights for everybody.

      If might makes right, which is what aiming for male white supremacy really is, then nobody has any rights. Including the male whites. Of course, they’ll destroy us long before they get to stabbing each other in the back, so we won’t live to see their comeuppance. (Or see the horrible world they’ve made for everybody.)

      Oh well. We had a nice Enlightenment experiment going there for a while. Shame something happened to it.

    • dakinikat says:

      Great thread here:

      • bostonboomer says:

        But he never mentions 2016 and the bernie bros, etc. who prevented Hillary from winning.

        • dakinikat says:

          Yeah. There’s that too. I think he was focused on Republican shenanigans only.

        • Ronstill4Hills says:

          I know this is a terrible thing to say, and to be clear I do not condone any violence against women, but I sincerely wish my sister would slap the shit out of Susan Sarandon and Rosario Dawson.

          As Florida Evans famously said, “DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!”

          We should not be here.

          People who do not believe it is possible that right wing zealots will ever try for a second bite at the civil war apple remember how you felt when this news leaked.

          This could have been so easily avoided. Al Gore should have followed Bill Clinton, Hillary or Barack should have follow Gore and so on. Biden should be the fifth Dem in the chain. We have the votes we are just too fucking stupid to use them.

          The bad guys are capable of anything and should not be allowed anywhere near power ever!

          • quixote says:

            Yes, being too stupid to use voting power is an issue. But it’s less-than-half of the issue. My guess is maybe 30% – 25%. Stacey Abrams showed what we can achieve with an intelligent campaign to get out the damn vote.

            The by far bigger problem is election jimmying. Purging millions, *millions*, of voters off the rolls, mainly in Dem areas, is massive. Making voting difficult nixes the votes of more millions. And then there’s the outright fraud to get the remaining hundreds of votes you might need in Florida or the 77,000 or so that help you nationally.

            And the US has been so embarrassed by the obvious evidence of election-stealing going all the way back to 2000 that instead they just keep mumbling about how weird it is that exit polling can diverge so much from results.

          • RonStill4Hills says:

            Fair points Quixote. But I am still angry. A lot of so-called Dems, progressives, liberals and wokes put in actual blood sweat and tears working to undermine Hillary, Gore, and Biden…while the worst group of monsters imaginable are dismantling the democracy. I look at Barack Obama’s landslide victory and I think that we have the numbers to brute force overwhelm the cheaters if we could get our minds right.

            But you are dead right, the voter fraud of the big lie is real, it is just the Big Liars who are doing it. The right wing has gotten so used to thwarting the will of the voters with shenanigans that they are now blatantly trying the overthrow elections after the fact when an actual valid reult slips through. It is madness.

            This midterm needs to be about voting rights just as much as reproductive rights.

          • NW Luna says:

            Have Susan Sarandon and Rosario Dawson started their ZOMGs about loss of abortion rights yet? I doubt they’ll ever own up to being wrong.

            All the Naderites, the Obamabots, the Berniebros — We Told You So!

            Anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary in 2016 — Congratulations, you own the mess now.

          • NW Luna says:

            And yes, although non-voters were a proportionately bigger problem back in 2000, 2004, and somewhat in 2016, voter suppression has been increasing. All the more important for everyone to vote as more and more elections are being lost by small margins.

          • NW Luna says:

            Need to make clear that I think Obama should have come after Hillary, and not that he shouldn’t have been elected at all.

  8. darthvelma says:

    “And reproductive justice was already being denied to trans people, Black people, Native Americans, the incarcerated.”

    Someone please explain to Lyz that reproductive justice was being denied to WOMEN. Black WOMEN. Native American WOMEN. Incarcerated WOMEN. Even the trans people she’s referring to are biologically FEMALE.

    Stop obfuscating. This is not happening to “people” in general. It is happening to FEMALE people and ONLY female people.

    • quixote says:

      Every single time, every. single. time, there’s an issue that hurts women as a class the desperate attempts start to make sure women won’t mobilize around it.

      It’s not really an issue. It’s a minor issue. It was an issue once but it’s all solved now. It’s a silly issue, spend time on this more important issue. Omigod you’re not really going to get hysterical about this female trouble are you. Don’t bring it up now, these things can only be handled in small steps so nobody gets mad. And, of course, the best of all, recently invented because we’re so smart now: women don’t exist.

      The result is always the same: women lose rights.

      It really is vital to say that WOMEN are the ones being destroyed here. Women matter.

      • darthvelma says:

        And of course, now that it looks like overturning Roe is going to happen, all these people have their hair on fire because they’re worried they’re next. Yes, they are coming for gay marriage and birth control and interracial marriage. Feminists warned them. And they mocked us.

        Women’s bodily autonomy wasn’t important enough to protect. But now that it looks like destroying our rights might eventually mean real people (i.e, men) suffer consequences, it’s the end of the damn world.

    • NW Luna says:

      “reproductive justice was already being denied to trans people,”

      WTAF? “trans” people? And WTH are they named first? Anyone taking wrong-sex hormones and has amputated their healthy reproductive organs is not going to need an abortion.

      The majority of those ‘trans kids’ who are being ‘supported’ by puberty blockers will be sterile and without capacity to have orgasm.

      What’s the one thing in common between all ‘birthing people’? They are WOMEN. ADULT HUMAN FEMALES.

  9. Enheduanna says:

    Alito doesn’t really make sense IMO. First he states Roe has been damaging – but doesn’t say how. Then he talks about how divisive it is – like this decision won’t be? To 70% of the country?? Touching on so many other aspects of our privacy?

    I’ve always despised Alito. How many more capable women out there could have been named to this court…it boggles.

    • darthvelma says:

      I would argue you could pick any woman at random from the most recent census and they’d be a better Justice than Alito. (And they’d certainly have a better judicial temperament that Kavanaugh.)

      • Enheduanna says:

        Thanks darthvelma! I’d also like to know why we have to revert to 1776 for precedent. Did precedent end in 1776? As bad as iron-age religion ruling things STILL.

        • darthvelma says:

          If I was one of the women or POC on the SC, I think I might have to smack Alito upside the head with a half-thawed haddock. And it’s not just because in 1776 more than half of the current court wasn’t really considered fully human. The Founders wouldn’t have cared much for Alito himself, given his religion and ethnic background.

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. bostonboomer says:

    This needed to be said twice, so I’m not deleting the duplicate. Thank you Ron.

  12. NW Luna says: