Reproductive Justice Under the Gun

Against the Current, No. 216, January-February 2022

Dianne Feeley

Rally and march for the right to legal abortions, October 2nd in Detroit. Jim West

WE’VE BEEN FOREWARNED: Brett Kavanaugh laid out the precedents for overturning Roe v. Wade, and Amy Coney Barrett suggested that those who want to terminate their pregnancy should have no problem because they can just continue to nourish the fetus, bring it to full term and then give it away.

Sonia Sotomayor has sounded the alarm, not only for the human consequence but for undermining the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court. The problem for the Court’s anti- choice majority is how to put a stop to a medical procedure that public opinion sees as necessary. Meanwhile, the problem for the pro-choice movement — which represents the majority in society — is to make sure the Court’s “authority” is shattered.

Kavanaugh says that precedents like racial segregation were overturned — so why not Roe? — not mentioning that the Brown v. Board of Education and Obergefell (marriage equality) rulings expanded civil and human rights, while abolishing Roe would take them away.

Anti-abortion lawyers maintain that the Supreme Court was mistaken in ruling that “the unborn” are not persons under the Constitution. They maintain that only states have the right to decide the meaning of personhood. In fact, 29 states have laws that bestow personhood on the embryo/fetus before viability. It’s nuts to be demanding “personhood” for fetuses when the federal government doesn’t have an Equal Rights Amendment for women.

The right wing has attempted to paint medical personnel and clinics who perform abortions as evil, harassing staff, picketing clinics — even invading and vandalizing them. Over the years their supporters have managed to kill 11 doctors.

Along the lines outlined by Barrett, the right has set up a string of phony clinics that promise free consultations and try to influence the pregnant individual to prioritize the fetus. Seeing the possibility of overturning federal law, they are now discussing building facilities that mirror the pre-Roe “homes for unwed mothers.”

Meanwhile there have been zoom calls, meetings, pickets and demonstrations that reassert the right to reproductive justice. Can the movement force the Justices to take reality into consideration? Chances are that at best they will be convinced to compromise for the present and open the door to even more restrictions. For the reproductive rights movement, the time for mobilization is now.

January-February 2022, ATC 216

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