a bird and a bottle

What does it really mean?
April 18, 2007, 7:11 pm
Filed under: civil rights, feminism/s & gender, law, news, politics, reproductive justice, sexuality

I just got back from an energizing and encouraging rally at Union Square in protest of today’s Supreme Court holding. I was angry to have to be there for this purpose, but heartened by the number of people and the diversity of the crowd there to support reproductive justice.

In my post earlier today about the Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, I spewed a lot of anger but not much in the way of analysis.

Scott Lemieux at LG&M beat me to the punch with a great post providing four key things to remember when reading the case.

Part of what Scott highlights – and of what’s important – is the light in which the decision casts women, put into stark relief in Justice Ginsburg’s incredible dissent. Scott writes:

And finally, let’s also remember the underlying gender assumptions of those who support the power of the states and the federal government. Ann has already noted this powerful passage in Justice Ginsburg’s brilliant dissent: “Revealing in this regard, the Court invokes an antiabortion shibboleth for which it concededly has no reliable evidence: Women who have abortions come to regret their choices, and consequently suffer from ‘[s]evere depression and loss of esteem.’ Because of women’s fragile emotional state and because of the bond of love the mother has for her child,’ the Court worries, doctors may withhold information about the nature of the intact D&E procedure. The solution the Court approves, then, is not to require doctors to inform women, accurately and adequately, of the different procedures and their attendant risks. Instead, the Court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety. This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution ideas that have long since been discredited.” Given Alito’s assumption that the state has the same interest in regulating married adult women as it has in regulating children, that he would vote to uphold this ban isn’t exactly shocking.

OK, so thing 1 to remember: a majority (though a slim one) of the Supreme Court thinks women must be treated like children and should just stay home barefoot and pregnant.

The other thing I think it’s important to note is that as a result of this decision, it will be much easier for states to place roadblocks in the way of women’s access to abortion. Lest the naysayers make you believe that this decision is of narrow import because it only affects one procedure. After today’s decision, no longer is it unconstitutional for a state to pass an abortion ban that makes no provision for women’s health. Will lack of access to an abortion leave you blind or paralyzed or sterile? Tough noogies. Or so says today’s Supreme Court. Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Profs picks out the choice quote on this front (pun intended):

The Act’s failure to allow the banned procedure’s use where ” ‘necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for preservation of the [mother’s] health,’ ” Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New Eng., 546 U. S. 320, 327-328, does not have the effect of imposing an unconstitutional burden on the abortion right.

Kennedy tries to obscure what he’s really saying in triple negatives. But the point is clear. And devastating.

It’s time to fight back. There’s at least one easy way — Sign the Planned Parenthood pledge here.


4 Comments so far
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Found your blog by way of Feminist Law Profs and then in NYT’s Caucus “Blogs React” feature (god, I love it when they do that) which has since been edited from its original version. That being said, Ijust wanted to add some support to your thoughts, as well as give proper credit for this fabulous line:
OK, so thing 1 to remember: a majority (though a slim one) of the Supreme Court thinks women must be treated like children and should just stay home barefoot and pregnant.

Great blog, thanks for the Planned Parenthood link, I’ll be back!

Comment by plethora__

plethora –

thanks for your comment. It’s great to get positive feedback. A question – was this blog featured in the NYT’s blog? If so, I’m bummed that I missed it! This small fry blogger would have swelled with pride.

Comment by bean

[…] Bean delivers smart and clear analysis, as per usual. […]

Pingback by Abortion Ban Roundup « MilbyDaniel

[…] Sherpa on Oh, Justice Kennedy, How You Have Failed UsAbortion Ban Roundup « MilbyDaniel on What does it really mean?bean on Oh, Justice Kennedy, How You Have Failed UsAlon Levy on Oh, Justice Kennedy, How You Have […]

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