For me, this week was all about Roe V. Wade. Alito’s leaked draft memo brought forward an enormous amount of commentary across all my news feeds and, being a moderate liberal who has always believed that women should have access to abortion, I zeroed in on that commentary.
Before I get into the articles I read about Roe V. Wade and the Alito draft document, I should articulate my own stance. Abortion should be available, safe and rare and by rare I do not mean draconian restrictions. At the same time, I do not believe there should be a completely unfettered right to abortion. I do believe that there should be a gestational point beyond which an abortion can only be performed in special circumstances, where the mother’s life is threatened for example. I also believe that pregnancy resulting from rape and incest should always be an exception to whatever laws there are limiting or prohibiting abortion.
I have also had personal experience with having to make a decision on pregnancy termination. I was in a marriage that was falling apart when we discovered my then wife was pregnant. Because of the rather miserable state of our marriage we made the very difficult decision to abort the pregnancy. I don’t regret the decision, but it lingers with me as a significant and sad part of my personal history. A friend once told me that she was pretty sure that “abortion is violence.” There is no doubt about that. It’s violence to everyone involved. Yes, abortion should be as rare as we can make it without completely denying it as an option.
I first learned of the leaked draft opinion from Heather Cox Richardson in her May 02 post.
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.
Then there was this admiration for the opinion post on Reason.com.
It is a tour de force. Justice Alito meticulously dissects, and forcefully responds to, every conceivable position in favor of retaining Roe and Casey. I could teach an entire law school seminar class on this opinion.
In the months leading up to the leak I began to wonder why there wasn’t more protest, more anger, more activism around what the likely outcome of the courts deliberations on Dobbs would be. Why there hadn’t been more effort to protect a woman’s right to an abortion. This Pro Publica article addresses that very issue.
I have been aware that the Roe V. Wade decision was thought by many to be on shaky ground, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who felt the ruling was too broad and not focused on the rights of women as it should have been.
In it’s somewhat glib “awe, it’s not so bad approach,” the article tells us that there will only be a 10 to 15 percent decline in abortions as women will still have options. There’s the abortion pill, available on line (some states are trying to curtail this) or travel to another state where abortion is more available (some states are moving to declare abortion murder, which does not bode well for the women who leave the state with gestating fetus and return without one). But then, the author identifies a core problem with returning legal management of abortion to the states when they admit that women with means will always be able to get safe abortions if they want them while working class and working poor women will struggle to do so. This, to me, is a pivotal issue. If this opinion turns out to be essentially the ruling the court delivers, then the consequences of society’s legislation of abortion will fall unequally on the citizenry with a disproportionate bad falling on women of limited means.
With the above in mind, this article in The Atlantic about declining mobility in the United States, that is, the ability of people to vote with their feet, seemed significant.
I can’t say what my complete feelings are about this ruling should it turn out to be close in scope to the final one. It’s clear to me that a lot of women are going to suffer because of it. But it also seems that the legal arguments supporting the current situation are not solid and perhaps the silver lining of all this is to get a chance to do it over and do it in a more lasting way.