Story by Risa Peris
The 2018 Supreme Court nominee debacle, featuring the beer-loving, unhinged, and disrespectful Brett Kavanaugh, was essentially about women’s rights and Roe v. Wade. Kamala Harris had asked Kavanaugh if he was aware of any law that legislated a man’s body and he reluctantly stated, after a few long seconds, that he was not aware of any. He was also asked if he believed Roe v. Wade was settled law. Kavanaugh grimaced, shrugged, and admitted it was an important precedent but he narrowly interpreted that right.
Kavanaugh, despite the swarm of controversy, was elected and his election sways the Supreme Court firmly to the right, which means liberalism in the court is in the minority. Many states have been emboldened by his nomination and have passed laws, clearly illegal and in violation of Roe v. Wade, as a way to test the case precedent before a Conservative Supreme Court. Alabama passed the strictest law with a near total ban on abortions. There is no exception for rape or incest. Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Utah, and Iowa have also passed legislation with varying degrees of strictness regarding abortion. Some state laws have been blocked by judges in several courts. However, New York, Vermont, and Maine have passed laws expanding abortion rights, including access to clinics. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently wrote that women who obtain abortions are “callous and bigoted child-killers.”
The Supreme Court recently upheld an Indiana statute requiring that aborted fetuses must be buried or cremated. Backing all this legal drama is Evangelicals and their near total support from Trump – a man who has likely never read the Bible and probably doesn’t believe there’s a God unless he counts the one he sees in the mirror every morning. Evangelicals fear a progressive Supreme Court and placed pressure on Mitch McConnell to block Obama’s pick for a Supreme Court nominee. Let’s be clear. Evangelicals represent the minority of the US population and, yet, they are shaping government policy for a generation and likely more. Evangelicals feel disenfranchised. Discarded. Disrespected. The liberal Blue states mock them. However, with a Republican president, they are seeking dominance and influence. And they are getting it. There have been many protests, some orchestrated by Planned Parenthood, against the Draconian abortion laws. What’s at stake? A woman’s body currently moderately legislated by a party who, ironically, wants less government interference in people’s lives.
The late Supreme Court Justice Scalia considered himself an Originalist. He considered what our storied Founding Fathers would do when faced with a problem or question of law. For Scalia, this meant a ban on abortion. His legal argument was subtle and insidious and I won’t delve into the nuances.
How did the Founding Fathers feel about abortion? Abortion was once very common and was regularly practiced during the lives of the Founding Fathers. Women could get potions in the mail or see physicians or midwives for the procedure. Abortion was only illegal after the “quickening” when a woman could feel the baby move. Abortion was a form of birth control and not even the Catholic Church protested. The medical establishment in the mid-19th century began to push to criminalize the procedure due to concerns over the safety of the procedure and also because non-physicians were performing the abortions. These non-physicians were often female midwives and the medical establishment might have been motivated by monetary concerns as much as the Hippocratic Oath.
Abortion has not always been contentious in the United States and the Founding Fathers likely had no issue with it. What Roe v. Wade did was give women the right over their bodies and allowed the abortion process to be safe and medically sound. It is and should remain a decision between a woman and her doctor. Planned Parenthood has not slackened in their fight for women’s health and women’s right to have control over their own bodies.
There are no laws legislating a man’s body. But imagine a world in which there was. Would men’s erections be controlled? Would Viagra be an illegal drug? When and where men can have sex? Would they have to pay child support for a fetus? Would men have to get vasectomies at thirteen and then have it reversed if they are married and want to have a child? These all sound like ridiculous proposals but it is not more so than legislating a woman’s body. I urge politicians to try legislating a man’s body. I also urge politicians to follow the logical conclusion of calling a fetus of a six-week pregnancy a person by allowing a woman two votes in political elections. One for her and one for the fetus. It could have a major impact on our political landscape.