June 25, 2022

The right to privacy

When the Constitution was written, there was no mention of women. It’s as if women didn’t exist. First under the iron rule of their fathers, then once married, they were under the rule of their husbands.

Women couldn’t own property, make business deals, handle their own money or even retain custody of their own children if divorced by their husband.

It was 1922 before women were allowed to vote, but it’s been a slow process for that vote to result in real power and equality. It’s now 100 years later, and we’re supposed to feel grateful that a woman is finally vice president.

When they learned the Supreme Court is probably going to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortion, American women realized, once and for all, they are still not equal to men. They do not have the power men have regarding their own bodies. Women do not have the right to privacy afforded to men.

Roe v. Wade became law 50 years ago on the premise that under the Constitution, there is a right to privacy, but today’s conservatives on the Supreme Court do not consider privacy a basic right for women. Justice Sam Alito, in his 90-page opinion that was leaked to the press, argues that Roe v. Wade was “egregiously wrong” because it was based on privacy, adding that the word “privacy” doesn’t even appear in the Constitution. Unfair as that is, women are just supposed to deal with it.

Women already deal with menstrual periods, birth control, pregnancy, miscarriages, childbirth, breastfeeding, postpartum hormonal swings, and stress on their bodies, and they do it with remarkable strength. But people with power, mostly men, say women shouldn’t be allowed to decide if and when to bear a child.

Pregnancy is far more complex than people realize. Opponents of abortion don’t disclose the fact embryos don’t have an actual heartbeat before developing into a fetus, but are simply emitting electrical signals in a woman’s uterus. Pro-lifers don’t admit that abortions remove embryos that cannot possibly live outside the woman’s womb. They ignore the truth that a severely impaired fetus that survives birth will suffer a lifetime of tragic disabilities. They ignore the fact that pregnancy can kill women.

The immediate and hurtful impact of the court’s action is that women continue to be denied equal rights. In a nation established on the principle of freedom from the dictates of England’s ruling class, it is a fact that women in America are denied freedom by our own ruling class – the Supreme Court, plus state legislators and governors around the country.

Roe v. Wade allowed abortion before the fetus became viable. It became the law of the land in 1973, passed by a 7- 2 vote. If Roe v. Wade is struck down, it will be the first time a right given to Americans by a previous court is reversed. People refer to Plessey v. Ferguson as an example of a precedent reversed by the Supreme Court, but in that case, rights that had been taken away by the court, were restored to the people.

In this action to overturn Roe v. Wade, rights that were given to women five decades ago will now be revoked.

Nominees to the Supreme Court have always referred to Roe v. Wade as precedent, as “settled law.” Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney-Barrett, all Trump nominees, publicly stated during their hearings Roe v. Wade is the law, and declared their commitment to precedent. Justice Alito said “Roe v. Wade is an important precedent” at his hearing, and Justice Clarence Thomas at his hearing said he believed “the Constitution protects the right to privacy.”

That’s not what they’re saying now.

Republicans in favor of over-turning Roe v. Wade are overjoyed and determined that abortion rights will never be reinstated. In fact, it’s been reported Iowa’s conservative Senator, Joni Ernst, is going to take the lead in Congress to push through a nationwide ban on abortion.

Almost anyone discussing the Supreme Court’s expected decision believes its effect will be most unfair to poor women of color, and that white women of means will continue to access abortion services.