Under the Sun
Rescuing silly women from themselves
REMEMBER when John Roberts and Samuel Alito, appearing separately before a Senate committee as nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, both promised to respect the court's precedent rulings?
Well, those promises were pitched out the window last week when the chief justice and the newest member joined three of their male cohorts in slicing into the heart of the court's long-standing requirement in Roe v. Wade, that abortion laws must have exceptions to protect the health and life of women.
In the process, these gentlemen -- whose reproductive inabilities will preclude them from ever having to suffer from the ban of a rare procedure real doctors say is necessary in medically difficult circumstances -- revived the arrogant notion that women don't know what's good for them and need to be saved from their ignorant selves.
If their views were mere demeaning expressions, they could be dismissed as dark-age hogwash. But as the legal deciders of the land, their primitive creed smothers a woman's right to privacy and to make decisions about her health without ideological intervention.
The court guys upheld a Republican-licensed law that blithely dismissed a well-founded conclusion by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that banning a procedure, cynically labeled by the anti-abortion gang as "partial-birth" abortion, "will gravely endanger the health of women" with certain conditions.
Because Congress says it ain't so, the court agreed it ain't. But just in case it is, wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion, women whose lives are at risk can simply pursue their cases in court. Kennedy knows that legal appeals would further delay an abortion that's already critical.
Adding insult to injury, Kennedy and his fellow supreme beings said that their ruling shields women from undergoing a procedure they might not really understand and could regret later.
It would be unusual for a woman, more so one whose life is in danger, to consider abortion lightly. Although language the anti-choice corps uses, such as "abortion on demand," tries to convey the idea that a woman can order up an abortion as easily as movie trailers on cable TV, it is an onerous, emotional and, above all, a private decision.
I have no doubt there are indifferent women who will abort an inconvenient fetus, just as there are men who carelessly inseminate them with little thought and a lot of lust. If nothing else, the conflict over abortion has raised the pitch of discussion about the ethics of abortion.
But for the court to insert its romantic psycho-babble about respect for life finding "an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child," while admitting it has no data to support its belief that women need this law to protect them from emotional harm, stretches beyond its jurisdiction.
The court's duty was to measure the law against the scripture of previous decisions that hold a woman's life and dignity to a human value second to none.
What the court and Congress have done is to criminalize a procedure that would be least damaging to women -- and forced open the door to further disrespectful and degrading intrusion.
has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org