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Overturning Roe V. Wade Would Be A Major Step Backward

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Peter Goodman
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Our Constitution, written by men who owed allegiance to no King, Kaiser, or Emperor, was a marvel in 1781.

But it was written by men. White men. Prosperous white men, mostly Christian, many slaveholders. They did a great service – for white men.

Our history is various jagged lines moving toward equality for all: blacks, tribes, women, Asians, Jews, LGBTQ+, and others the Founders never considered.

The leaked draft decision reviving states’ control over women’s bodies, if issued, will be a major step backward. It could foreshadow more backward leaps, returning many to second-class citizenship or worse.

Symbolic of the Court’s blind arrogance is Alito’s citation of 17th Century English jurist Sir Matthew Hale, who believed women were subservient beings God had fashioned from Adam’s rib. Married women were property. There was no such thing as marital rape, Hale wrote: a husband owned a wife’s body, and could do as he liked with it. Including beating her.

Alito gleefully asserts that the Constitution never mentions abortion. It never mentions women. It wasn’t written for them. Or by them.

Denying abortions isn’t about “life,” or the backward states would let women abort health-impairing pregnancies, and wouldn’t be denying women a safe procedure, relegating them to backstreets and basements. This isn’t about kids: Justice Barrett at least walks the walk; but most anti-choicers scream about protecting fetuses yet don’t adopt unwanted babies. Conservatives say folks should sink or swim without much government help, and that businesses’ profits shouldn’t be diminished by requirements designed to preserve kids’ health and environment.

Alito and his ilk would force women, no matter the circumstances, to give birth and take full responsibility for “their” children, but vote against measures to help families give the resulting kids a really nurturing childhood. While forcing women to bring unwanted pregnancies to term, Mississippi threatens also to outlaw contraceptives!

The draft mocks stare decisis, a major prop of our Anglo-American judicial system. A final decision along these lines would dissipate public respect for the Court. Alito says “originalism;” but pre-quickening abortion was legal in all states in 1789, as under British common law. Overturning Roe would be without precedential authority or popular support.

Our Constitution and Bill of Rights promised personal freedom. Obviously the Constitution couldn’t name every human problem or eventuality; but it stated clearly that we should live free from unnecessary interference. “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. Powers not specifically delegated to the United States “are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.” Whom we love and/or sleep with, whether or not we eat healthy food or get exercise, and (within broad limits) what we do and say in our own homes are in that latter category. So should be our personal health decisions,including pregnancy. Nor did any of the Founders ever suggest otherwise.

Justice Alito, where in the constitution does it say that the states can legislate such personal matters?

Steve Pearce, how can y’all oppose cities requiring their employees to be vaccinated in a pandemic, yet shout from the rooftops that government can force health choices on women, whose condition isn’t infectious at all?

Peter Goodman, what right do you have to pontificate, when your gender and age guarantee you won’t face this particular health choice?

With all due respect to the Court, women deserve much, much better.