Tuesday, November 1

"Strip Search Sam"

Okay, here's the thing. I'm not only old enough to remember the days before Roe, I'm old enough to have been a sexually active teenager back then. I remember in particular one 1970 afternoon at my girlfriend's house when the joint passing and Dave Mason's first solo album were interrupted by banging and screaming from the second story, followed shortly by a girl I'd never seen before half-staggering half-falling down the stairs. She'd had an illegal abortion that afternoon and was bleeding severely. She survived.

Roe's opponents have benefited from a titled playing field almost from the start. The decision dates to the heyday of the Nixon administration war on the Librul Media, which was answered in part by giving the right wing access to every teevee discussion of the issues all out of proportion to public sentiment. They benefitted from the weight of the Catholic Church on the issue. The two came together for me in the late 70s one night watching the McNeil/Lehrer News Hour when a panel discussion included, among their usual gathering of white male insiders a Catholic priest. I wrote to them asking how they came to have a member of the priesthood on the show but couldn't find a single woman, let alone a representative of NOW, on the Rolodex, and why, as long as he was there, no one asked him whether the Church thought birth control should also be construed as murder. They wrote back thanking me for my interest and expressed the hope I'd continue watching the program.

You can add to that the fact that abortion clinic thuggery rarely made the news unless it involved actual explosions, and the media's (and the FBI's) curious disinterest in the criminal organization which bombed clinics and harrassed, threatened, even killed clinic workers. I worked as a volunteer escort during one anti-rights uprising, and if the public had seen the sort of things that went on during "peaceful" protests it would have given large numbers of their supporters pause. I never saw a teevee crew, and the only coverage I saw locally was when a few of the nuts chained themselves to a fence.

As I think I said after the Roberts nomination, the "Two Camps Gear Up For Battle" coverage of every Court nominee nauseates me. It's an excuse to continue the faux-balance, to refuse to cover the actual issue, to treat Roe v. Wade as if it were a piece of "unpopular" or "controversial" legislation rather than a civil right grounded firmly in Constitutional law. It's particularly galling coming as Rosa Parks lies in honor in the Capitol drenched in crocodile tears.

I'm with Norbizness and the Poor Man. Alito is a foregone conclusion. That was decided last November. My one hope is that we can find, at this late date, some Senate Democrats who will begin to make the case that reproductive rights are civil rights, and that the philosophically unsupportable "original intent" and "legislating from the bench" crapola is a cover for a different sort of judicial activism, one the country will come to rue just as it has every other example of unfettered right radicalism. The refusal to accept the simple solution: if you don't like abortions, don't have one; if you don't like other people having abortions, offer to adopt and care for every unwanted child, is not going to end abortions. Or the fight.


DBK said...

Your arguments are very compelling and I am in agreement to a point. I believe that Roe is a strict constructionist and original intent position. As I understand the Constitution, the Ninth Amendment clearly speaks to the Founding Fathers' intentions to provide expansive rights and the document itself is, in every way, intended to limit the powers of government. In addition, abortion was legal at the time the document was written, so the issue wouldn't have been one that would occur to them.

Blackmun's argument, while possibly flawed in the construction of a trimester system that was practical but had no basis in law, was otherwise correct in its use of the Griswold v Connecticut precedent. Griswold, with the often offending "penumbra" found by Douglas, is certainly correct in its understanding of the Constitution and original intent. It would be alter the understanding of our Constitution and deny the people both freedom and the government limitation to overturn Griswold, and Roe is securely based on Griswold.

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

Really, as I am just bar exam results away from being a lawyer -- I don't really think that Roe is about the Constitution or privacy or anything like that. It is about control. It is about the government telling women that they must be pregnant or if they have the guts to do something about an unwanted pregnancy, they can bleed to death for all the law cares.

Now, you want a solid in the Constitution argument--here is how Roe should have been decided. Not on privacy for the bone heads who don't understand that phrase in the Fourth Amendment "right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" (I think they were squeemish about saying secure in their vagina and uterus in the Constitution--if Maude Lebowski had been there, she would have by God said it--it is a mofo equal protection argument. If the government cannot force men to procreate, it sure has hell can't force a woman to, either.

Bring it on, Alito. I want hearings on this man who would control my body.

Anonymous said...

Damn straight, jaye.
I think any judge who feels that a corporation has a more Constitutionally sound personal right to privacy than gays and women do is a serious mistake.