That’s not Alito’s house, is it girl?
Used it to create a meme template at https://imgflip.com/i/6ff36u
That’s not Alito’s house, is it girl?
Used it to create a meme template at https://imgflip.com/i/6ff36u
So we have a new commenter by the name of A Woman of No Importance who contributed to the thread (still going!) about Asshole Patriarchs. I’ll let most of that stand where it is, but one piece is something that I think should be talked about, and that’s this:
One thing that bothers a lot of moderates on both sides of the issue, which I almost never hear addressed, is this: Why do we need a million abortions a year when birth control is cheap, readily available, easy to use, and mostly works? We should be living in a world in which there are no new AIDS transmissions since it is widely known how to have sex without transmitting the virus, and the same thing applies here. People know how to have sex without making a baby. It’s entirely predictable what may happen if you have sex without precautions. So, if you don’t want a child, maybe the time to decide that is before you decide to have unprotected sex.
Now, AWoNI is in favor of abortion on demand until “sometime in the second trimester” when personhood attaches to the fetus. This isn’t someone who is reflexively opposed to abortion, and AWoNI can of course clarify, but it appears from context that she places herself among the moderates.
That’s important because assuming all that is true, it says quite a bit that a moderate is repeating right-wing extremist assumptions that sex is an entirely predictable thing and people are irresponsibly “choosing not to choose” until after they become pregnant and that, to use AWoNI’s language:
birth control is cheap, readily available, easy to use, and mostly works
Except birth control is not necessarily cheap, it is not always readily available, and “mostly works” is not the same as “it works”.
Further, this is something that is addressed literally all the time. Local schools try to make condoms available to prevent AIDS transmission and pregnancy, then local anti-contraception, anti-sex extremists scream about how a cereal-bowl full of condoms on some school nurse’s desk is killing god and inviting the Chinese Communist Party to rule over the good white folk until the end of time.
Seriously, there’s a huge panic with lots of news stories every time a school tries to increase access to contraception or even simply to good information. And when those news stories are not happening, epidemiologists from the CDC and NIH are producing regular reports about access and information, all of which are available to anyone, including AWoNI. It’s truly bizarre to me when people say that “no one is X” when we have entire industries of people whose job is to study X and put out good, peer reviewed information about it.
Is AWoNI reading that stuff? Evidently not. Could AWoNI read it? Sure could. Accessed through libraries it’s “cheap, readily available, easy to use, and mostly works”. Laws and policies are written all the time using such information and research and professional opinion.
The problem is not that there is no good, non-hyperbolic information. It’s certainly not that no one is discussing these things. The problem is that one side is actively trying to suppress that information through abstinence only education which we know from those same researchers results in more disease and more pregnancy.
And thus the irony: AWoNI is pleading for reasonable discussion, while repeating the assumptions of the people who have, as a significant goal, the squashing of reasonable discussion. Worse, the conclusion that AWoNI comes to is that
if you don’t want a child, maybe the time to decide that is before you decide to have unprotected sex.
And, again, that’s the extremist position of one side: you don’t need the “choice” of whether or not to remain pregnant, because you already had the “choice” of whether or not to become pregnant.
This dovetails with something Alito (or his ghostwriters) said in their draft Dobbs opinion: which is that there’s no such thing as involuntary pregnancy, since anyone who doesn’t wish to be a parent can simply give the child up for adoption.
There can be other posts about ways in which we don’t necessarily have the choices asserted because of x or y. Also too, VASECTOMY, MOTHERFUCKERS. But mostly what i want to say here is that it’s disingenuous to claim that we have so many other choices we don’t need this one, when the person making that claim is simultaneously working to also remove those other choices.
AWoNI has entirely typical views on abortion for a woman in the US — there should be some period where it is an option, then another period where it isn’t, and we should just have a good, productive discussion about when the dividing lines between those periods should be and get this abortion thing solved. It would be silly to blame her or look down on her or think less of her for being an entirely typical woman.
But just because AWoNI is entirely typical doesn’t mean that we can’t notice how the disingenuous communication and even outright lies of extremists end up determining the expectations of the reasonable middle. “Teach the controversy” is another example more familiar to the readers of Pharyngula, but “Sex is predictable, we already have choices at other stages of reproduction, therefore abortion isn’t necessary” is a particularly pernicious one.
rather than comment all over the place whenever it comes up, and I sure as fuck hope that everyone else on FreethoughtBlogs and Wonkette and Discord is listening, because this is important.
There is a thing lately, a widespread thing, a thing that has happened in comments here but also in top-level posts, which is just pissing me off. Abe Drayton is the latest to do this thing that pisses me off with his post:
Now, I’m not going to lie, there is some utility in examining how institutions such as the Democratic Party help (or not) and fight (or not) for things that are supposedly Democratic Party priorities. Examining that might help you make decisions going forward about how you interact with the Democratic Party and representatives thereof.
I will also stipulate that Drayton (and many other people implicitly criticized by this here blog post of mine) are not bad people. That’s not what I’m saying. (Abe Drayton is actually a good guy who does amazing work on climate and you should support that work.)
But this is a shitty take to promote right now, and let me tell you why. Because when you say, as Drayton does, that “the Democrats” are guilty of x or y sin of action or omission, you’re talking about a category that includes both men and also maybe possibly actual fucking women. Yes, that’s right. Women are occasionally Democrats. They occasionally get elected as Democrats to work within legislative bodies or as executive officers of states or other jurisdictions.
And here’s the thing that I’m only saying once, so LISTEN THE FUCK UP:
Democratic women are the ONLY political group who has made reproductive rights a priority. They are the ONLY group that has fought with any measure of consistency or effectiveness for reproductive rights. And they are the FIRST group to be targeted for shit from the right wing, such as when a woman testified before congress about the gross disparities between insurance coverage of mens sexual health and insurance coverage of contraception for women and other necessities for women’s sexual health and was then immediately tarred as a “slut” (yes, that actual word, no euphemisms) for testifying before congress on a public policy matter. That woman is Sandra Fluke and fucking hell yes I remembered her off the top of my head; I didn’t google this shit; I didn’t go hunting for examples through laborious internet research. I just know the name of this woman who was pilloried for doing exactly what Drayton and too many others say that “Democrats” are unwilling to do.
So the question is, if I know her name, why don’t all of you? Why are so many of you willing to blame “the Democrats” without qualification? If you want to bash some broad group within the Democratic Party you can bash Democratic men if you like, but at this moment, at this particular moment, lumping Democratic women, the ONLY people who have worked to create the environment that mades overturning Roe v. Wade even an issue the media would cover so that you would notice it to comment, with people who just don’t give a shit, well, that’s victim blaming and I won’t have it.
I know that people have done this without being bad people. They just made a bad mistake, yada yada yada. I don’t fucking care because this post isn’t about you. It’s not about how you’re a bad person. It’s not about how you feel.
This post is about how Democratic women are the only people who have cared about this for more than 50 years now, and to have Democratic women lumped in with the do-nothings has to fucking stop. This post is about not forgetting that women are people. This post is about not forgetting that Democrats include women and when you’re talking about “Democrats” you’re talking about women. And this post is important because Alito and his ilk would like you to forget that when you’re talking about “Americans” or “Adults” or “teenagers” you are also talking about women.
Ignoring the existence of women as independent human beings with our own needs, our own bodies, and our own agency is what got us into this mess. Continuing that mistake isn’t going to help us get out of it.
So, in keeping with a line of cases most recently exemplified by Washington v. Glucksberg (a right-to-die case), Alito demanded of the respondents (Jackson Women’s Health) that they establish not merely that bans on abortion were an imposition on liberty, but that there existed constitutional and statutory resistance to such bans at the time of the drafting of the US Constitution, or, failing that, at the time of the passage of the 14th Amendment upon which pregnant persons rely to defend against state and local limitations on the right to choose for oneself whether to carry a pregnancy to term or to seek an abortion.
Alito found that there was no constitutional or statutory resistance to abortion bans established by 1789 or even by 1868. And he has some examples to back that up. Let’s not fool ourselves that there’s no such thing as a coherent argument against a federal constitutional right to abortion in the USA. I think it’s a bad argument, but it’s at least coherent. Alito isn’t Marjorie Taylor Greene or Paul Gosar or Rand Paul.
But the historically-based reasoning of Glucksberg as employed in Alito’s decision leaves out crucial context, and that is that while abortion rights were not protected before the civil war, and while the law journals of prominent law schools didn’t have published articles asserting or even requesting a defense of abortion rights until after World War II, the people tasked with protecting rights – the appellate judges and ultimately the supreme court justices of the United States – included 0 women until 1934, when one woman was appointed to 1 circuit court of appeal. It wasn’t until after World War II that there was a single federal trial judge in the district courts.
To put it bluntly: the right to abortion has been protected for longer than women have been permitted to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. To this day we have never had a woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The reasoning of Roe has frequently been criticized as muddy, but when I read Roe, one thing that I believe those 8 men were trying to examine is, “Would abortion rights have been considered fundamental if women were considered people, considered valid authorities able to determine as well as men what was necessary for the ‘ordered liberty’ the court categorizes as essential to the democratic functioning of the United States?”
Alito would have us skip that question. Alito ignores that women were not considered persons, capable of contract and of holding property. Women were not considered capable of democratic self-determination throughout the period Alito examines. To expect the record of a country’s history during which women were not allowed the right to choose anything for themselves to reflect deep respect for a woman’s right to choose pregnancy or abortion is the grossest perversion of honest investigation.
Alito attempts (in at least one place that I remember from my first reading of this draft Dobbs decision) to distinguish the question of abortion as a question of so-called “substantive due process” and thus as a question of whether or not abortion is “intrinsic to ordered liberty”, meaning that it was a liberty with a “deeply rooted” history of legal protection within the early history of the United States and its forerunner colonies. He goes as far as to say that being pregnant is not a “sex based classification” for the purposes of the court. The import here is that he is trying – most desperately – to avoid any equal protection argument.
But the truth is that the very concept of “ordered liberty” fraught with equal protection problems for an originalist such as Alito. How can one say that the worship practices of Santeria are protected under such an analysis. For if you examine the record of protections (or lack thereof) for traditional African spiritual practices, you will find that Santeria is no more a religious classification than being pregnant is a sex-based one. Why, then, should a First Amendment analysis apply? And why should Santeria practitioners expect their practices to be protected equally with those of Catholicism’s practitioners? The history tells us that Santeria was not a “religion” in the meaning of the framers, and further that protection of Santeria cannot now be granted on the basis of the 14th amendment since there is no history of protecting its practices before the US civil war. One might attempt an equal protection argument, but Alito’s reasoning is clear: equal protection only applies when discussing two classifications within the same larger category. With Santeria determined not to be a religion to the minds of the elite landed men during the early history of White North America, there is no religion to which Santeria can be fairly compared.
In short: equal protection and “ordered liberty” cannot be fully divorced, and the plain language of the 14th Amendment prohibits much that was quite normal (and normalized) at the time. Different levels of analysis (rational basis tests, strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, and even “rational basis with teeth”) seem to arise in US Jurisprudence more to excuse the court from the responsibility of applying the obvious meaning of this most modern-relevant Reconstruction amendment than they do in order to justify applying the power of the courts.
Glucksberg and its predecessors were never cases with which I was happy, but Alito’s decision in Dobbs makes clear exactly where they lead: to an artificial parsing of liberty, of due process, of privileges and immunities, as separate from the context of equal protection -a guarantee contained within the very same sentence. Dobbs is an immediate threat only to rights supported by precedent drawing upon the Due Process clause, but the longer term threat comes from this notion that due process can be fully explored, explained, and protected without reference to the entirely separate concept of equal protection. And in this Originalist separation we find that liberty is exactly what the drafters of the constitution thought it was: a privilege of white men.
I leave the final thoughts to the incomparable Pamela Means:
Here is one excerpt I’ve already taken. We’ll discuss a bunch of quotes and my general analysis soon.
Um, Alito? Roe was the OPPOSITE of imposing a highly restrictive regime. OP POH ZIT. Look it up.