Thursday, December 2, 2021

Two Notes about the Coming Fall of Roe v. Wade

First, on the subject of adoption: Amy Coney Barrett said that no woman really needs to have an abortion because she could put the child up for adoption instead. But I think genetic technology has made that a lot more complicated. Consider a case that Rod Dreher reported on a few years ago. A young woman was raped by a family member, exactly the situation for which a large majority of Americans support abortion. She had the child and gave him up for adoption, everything was hushed up, and she went on to lead what looks like a fairly normal life. But then her child, using matches in an online DNA database, found his birth family and brought the whole thing out into the open, leading to a lot of pain and angst. I think this is the future that any young mother has to consider, because there can no longer be any hope for secrecy.

And then this:

The case that could lead to the end of Roe v. Wade includes a novel argument: that the right to an abortion is no longer necessary because it has become much easier for women to combine work and family.

In Roe, the Supreme Court said that an unwanted pregnancy could lead women to “a distressful life and future,” and in a 1992 case, Casey v. Planned Parenthood, that abortion rights were necessary for “women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation.”

On Wednesday, the court is hearing a case from Mississippi regarding a law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. In a brief to the court, lawyers for the state argued that those ideas about women’s lives had been obviated by “the march of progress.”

“In these last 50 years,” Mississippi’s attorney general, Lynn Fitch, said in a statement, “women have carved their own ways to achieving a better balance for success in their professional and personal lives.”

This isn't really true, and an unplanned birth is still an economic catastrophe for single women. (Mississippi in particular does almost nothing to require paid leave for childbearing or to support poor mothers.) But I would say that this argument shows one of the problems with the way Roe v. Wade was originally argued and decided. The court has said repeatedly that part of the government's interest in abortion is economic, in that abortion keeps women in the work force. I think that is a lousy argument and it shows that the court was basically floundering around to find a constitutional justification for their belief that abortion is a woman's right. The result is, I think, a very weak legal argument that has stood so long for purely political reasons.

I have always thought that although I consider Roe v. Wade a bad decision without any real constitutional justification, it was probably better for the nation to have it settled by the Supreme Court rather than becoming an even more toxic political issue that will only add to our already disturbing partisanship. I think we are soon going to find out if that is so.


Kpgoog said...

Life begins at birth. Are we prepared to: Charge women with murder, for aborting their own fetus? To execute these women in states that have the death penalty? To recognize your legal birthday as the day of conception? To confer all rights and obligations to an unborn fetus as a US citizen (census, passports, claim tax as dependents, birth certificates)? Do they even address these issues, or is it just another way to maintain traditional male dominance?

Shadow said...

The Court needs a better reason than, "Whoops! We screwed up all those years ago, so let's reverse and wash our hands of all that has happened since," if it doesn't want to make a mockery of its institution. Equal Protection was that better reason for Brown, and I think the March of Progress in technology and science will be the better reason for curtailing abortion. For now expect the time it takes a fetus to reach viability to shrink to 15 or 20 weeks.

G. Verloren said...

The UN views access to abortion as a human right. Many Americans, however, don't see women as human. If men could get pregnant, abortion would be enshrined in a constitutional amendment defended more zealously than even the second amendment.

ArEn said...

The idea of compulsory pregnancy is hideous to me. I don’t think the argument should have anything to do with whether it is difficult or not for a single woman to raise a child. Pregnancy, especially for black women in America but for all women can be dangerous and life altering. To be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term and risk preclampsia, heart failure, hemorrhage, amniotic fluid embolism, torn perineal tissue, incontinence, infection, DVT, surgical trauma is unimaginable. Just imagine being forced to undergo any other medical condition and procedure again your will

G. Verloren said...


It's certainly a hideous irony that the people who refuse to get a simple, safe, effective, non-invasive vaccine against a global plague are also largely the same people in favor of compulsory pregnancy.

Another layer of irony is that these are also largely the same people who worry about falling birth rates, and who fail to realize that destroying access to abortion is actually going to suppress birth rates even further as it introduces a chilling effect where women are less willing to have sex in the first place as the risks are too high, even with contraception.

Anonymous said...

“Gregor Strasser was the National Socialist—Nazi—Reich propaganda chief in the 1920s, before the post was taken over by Joseph Goebbels. According to Strasser, “for a man, military service is the most profound and valuable form of participation—for the woman it is motherhood!”3 Paula Siber, the acting head of the Association of German Women, in a 1933 document meant to reflect official National Socialist state policy on women, declares that “to be a woman means to be a mother, means affirming with the whole conscious force of one’s soul the value of being a mother and making it a law of life…the highest calling of the National Socialist woman is not just to bear children, but consciously and out of total devotion to her role and duty as mother to raise children for her people.