The Court

The newly engineered Supreme Court will soon decide two abortion-rights cases: Texas’ empowerment of “pro-life” vigilantes, and a more threatening case from Mississippi that was argued this week.

When I describe today’s Court as “engineered,” I am referring to the brazenly unethical behavior of Mitch McConnell, who ensured the appointment of far-right Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett, of course, joined five other conservative Justices, and probably guaranteed that Roe will be overturned or eviscerated.

What then?

According to the Guttmacher Institute,  extrapolating from 2014 statistics, one in four (24%) American women has had an abortion by age 45, despite the considerable barriers to the procedure that have been erected in some half of U.S. states. Fifty-nine percent of them were obtained by patients who had previously had at least one child, and 51% had been using a contraceptive method in the month they became pregnant.

As the country fractures and the Supreme Court drifts farther from any observable understanding of the environment within which it issues its decisions, I’m reminded of a column by Linda Greenhouse, in which she considered the legacy and evolution of Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the country’s highest court. Among other things, Greenhouse noted the deep friendship between O’Connor and Justice Stephen Breyer.

From the outside, it seemed an unlikely pairing, two people from opposing political parties with such different backgrounds, public personas and career paths. But they shared a deep concern about the practical effect of the court’s decisions.

When it comes to reproductive rights, those “practical effects” are likely to be dire. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that–in addition to financial and emotional problems–women who had been denied abortions experienced long-term health problems.

There’s a good deal of research that shows, in the short term, having an abortion is much safer than childbirth, but there isn’t much research over the long-term,” says study co-author Lauren Ralph, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. “Our study demonstrates that having an abortion is not detrimental to women’s health, but being denied access to a wanted one likely is.”

According to the study, women who were denied abortions “consistently” faced worse health outcomes than those who weren’t. “The findings were consistent with a raft of other studies highlighting some of the most serious consequences women face when government restricts women’s access to abortion.

It isn’t only women who face adverse consequences from that denial.

The discourse around abortion tends to focus on women and generally fails to consider how being denied an abortion affects the children a pregnant woman already has and those she may have in the future. The research is clear: Restricting access to abortion doesn’t just harm women — it harms their children as well…Our study shows that denying a woman a wanted abortion has a negative impact on her life and the lives of her children.

A University of Colorado study found that banning abortion nationwide would lead to a 21% increase in the number of pregnancy-related deaths overall and a 33% increase among Black women.

None of these consequences bother the zealots who are “pro fetal life.” (They certainly aren’t “pro” the life and health of women–or concerned about the wellbeing of children once they’re born.) They are willing to ignore two undeniable facts: (1) as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists insists, access to abortion is an important part of women’s health care; and (2) outlawing the procedure will not end abortions. It will simply end medically safe abortions for women who cannot afford to travel to states where the procedure is legal.

Beyond those “practical effects” is the undeniable message that is sent when government intrudes on intimate moral decisions properly left to individual citizens. As Michelle Goldberg recently wrote,

As the feminist Ellen Willis once put it, the central question in the abortion debate is not whether a fetus is a person, but whether a woman is. People, in our society, generally do not have their bodies appropriated by the state.

I realize that none of the documented practical effects of gutting Roe v. Wade will persuade the minority of Americans who think they have the right to impose their religious (or misogynist) beliefs on the clear majority that doesn’t share them, or the politicians who continue to use the issue to motivate their voters (while not-infrequently pressuring their mistresses to abort accidental pregnancies).

I do wonder, however: what will a “victory” for pro-fetal-life activists mean politically? How many of the substantial number of women who have had abortions–and the partners and family members who helped them make that decision– will respond by becoming the new “single-issue” voters?


  1. Well, Kavanaugh and Barrett will have some explaining to do if they change their minds from their confirmation hearing. The American people could say they lied under oath when both of them stated that Roe is the “law of the land” and their personal beliefs can’t undo it.

    By the way, what happened to Joe Biden’s plan for expanding the court while the Democrats have the numbers? LOL

    The Law of Cause and Effect is universal. It will be interesting to see the consequences of the liars in Washington.

  2. As a woman and also as an adopted child at 7 days old, I am outraged that a predominately MALE group gets to make a determination as to what, where and when a woman can determine what happens to her body. No, I do not advocate casual sex, but be real, it does happen. In fact, there are even times in a loving marriage, a pregnancy occurs during a most inopportune time.

    In my opinion, no man should have the ability to “tell” a woman what she should do, in any circumstance. But history stands to show us all what happened in the past with abortions, done illegally, in very non-medical environments. Women/mothers died!

    I am also outraged that the so-called pro-lifers are so stupid and ignorant as they vehemently spout against abortion, but not a damn one of them has offered up their home, or their finances, or their love, to support the mother and the child. They only say the child must be born, with not a damn care as to HOW the child will be raised and what opportunities the child will have to grow into a responsible adult.

    Throughout my years have always wished that ADOPTION would get attention as a viable option to abortion, but the educators and lawmakers are too busy criticizing rather than trying to solve an issue.

    So the Supreme Court male judges need to recuse themselves and quit all the hypocrisy, Amy Comey Barrett already has a number of children, maybe she can raise a few more.

  3. That “stench” you smell coming from the Supreme Court is the same one that has waifed over the land since Roe V. Wade was first decided. It is the smell of the lies and deceits utilized by power hungry Republicans to push extreme religious beliefs as a battering ram against the Constitution. And they are being very successful. How do you explain the religious make-up of the members of the Supreme Court?

  4. 1. The Ellen Willis quote is profound.
    2. It’s not religious (or misogynist). It’s religious AND misogynist.
    3. I for one do NOT have a uterus!
    4. So I’ll stay in my lane and simply assert that women should have EXACTLY the same rights as men as it pertains to their health. PERIOD! (Pun intended).

  5. Contributor Dunn has hit the nail on the head. As a father of two adopted children and a foster father, the “lets force the woman to have a child “bible thumper’s could care less about the child in my discussions with them. Although The bible thumper’s do not say this way, the woman must be punished somehow having sex.

    The goal of “the bible thumper’s” is an absolute ban on abortions. There is middle ground.

  6. And what about the ridiculous friendship between Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia?

    This SCOTUS edition defines the statement: EVERYTHING REPUBLICANS TOUCH DIES.

    These self-righteous hypocrites are beyond any reproach for decency. They simply lack the mental capacity to reason or to understand what they do. Their religions create the black hole in their consciences. The blog yesterday was a perfect fit for this one. Religion and Republicans are a lethal combination in ANY context.

  7. Didnt we just state yesterday that 74% of Republicans and 50% of Democrats believe in heaven or hell or a God. Anyone can research that Roe was intended for women to have first trimester abortions. Should beyond a medical reason an abortion be allowed because science states that the child is not only separately identified by the existence of its own DNA, but moreover it at a certain state is viable. These are the kinds of arguments that should be legislated state by state.
    If Roe is overturned states legislatively can insure first trimester thru third trimester abortions. What does science say about children in the womb past 12, 14 , 16 weeks. We as voters need to insure that its legislated to meet the needs in every state of women in need of abortions.

  8. And thank you, Susan Collins. I know for certain that most Catholics in America don’t know that Thomas Aquinas did not believe that a fetus was a human before the end of the third month and that the church generally took that as truth right up until Roe v Wade. Amazing how little the price of power, when you only have to give up your soul.

    Todd, fyi, Biden has never wanted to expand the court. His advisors do.

  9. I volunteer with Planned Parenthood in California and can assure you that plans are being made to help women in other States get abortions when they need them. I often wish these controlling, misogynistic idiots could sit with me and hear the heartbreaking stories I hear from women waiting for their procedures. Maybe, eventually, they’d listen and see their errors?

    Or am I just being optimistic?

  10. Activist magats on the Soopreme Court are full of more s#it than a Kristmas turkey and they are perjurers of a feather.

  11. What angers me even more about the Tx and Mississippi bills is that they believe that even women who have been raped, girls who have been made pregnant by molestation should not be allowed to have an abortion. I suspect this could easily lead to an increase in suicides. And I know it will lead to an increase in back alley abortions that either kill or permanently injure women physically and/or mentally.

    Then there’s no exception when the mother’s life is endangered. So I guess they don’t care if a mother who already has children dies. They don’t care if the children lose their mother.

    The argument will be made that laws re abortion should be made by each state. This will allow each state to revert to misogynist policies. And in the meantime they will do little or nothing to increase women’s access to birth control and/or prenatal care.

    If SCOTUS guts Roe v Wade, I can only hope that all those who support a woman’s right to abortion will rise up and vote the misogynists out of office. I have to say, though, that I am not very hopeful that even if people do rise up that much will change due to gerrymandering.

    I guess straight women will have to rise up and start telling men that there will be no sex unless they go get a vasectomy. All the straight women should go on strike, so to speak. This could be really effective if the wives of representatives in state legislatures went on strike.

    The other thing that I am certain will happen is that many men and women will assist those who want an abortion to get to another state where it is legal. We will have a feminist underground transport.

    The men have forgotten that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!”

    What the pro-birth men and women really don’t understand is that Godde is coming and she’s pissed because she created women for the glory of Godde not the sex toys of men. Oh no did I profess a radical feminist belief? Yes, I did!!

  12. KARMA!
    I do not believe in it, but let me tell you, I can think of several people involved in this Machiavellian plot, McConnell, Collins, and some more, to whom I would like to see Mr./Ms. Karma pay a visit.
    The “pro fetal life” folk care not a whit about the science, statistics, physical, or mental, health of anyone beyond their toxically selfish selves. They do not care about Thomas Aquinas’ opinion, but, parenthetically, would love to see St. Augustine’s “Do not educate the people” concept be federal law.
    One might be able to make a case for the venal impact of St.Reagan, who so blatantly invited the Evangelicals into the government’s apartments, for their outsized leverage on this.
    John S., and “EVERYTHING REPUBLICAN TOUCH DIES,” fits so well into the similar “EVERYTHING TRUMP TOUCHES DIES,” vein, that it makes a lot of sense regarding the GQP’s love of that bit of orange garbage.
    Yes, Patrick, the issue is not abortion, it is only being used as a proxy for pushing theocracy.

  13. It is true that men should not be telling women what to do with their bodies, but it is also true that women in power as well as men should not be telling women what to do with their bodies. Nobody should be telling women what to do with their bodies. I have written elsewhere that the solution to the present expected gutting of Roe by the Supreme Court is two-fold: (1) Expand the Surpreme Court by four new justices, or five if we have a resignation, or (2) The better solution – codify the rights given by Roe.

    On the legal side, I am wondering how the principle of federalism stands up to a court’s gift of interpretation and enforcement of a federal constitutional right to state politicians, i.e., if it is a federal right then why aren’t the interpretation and enforcement of such a right uniform? What if some state decides that its retirees are only entitled to half of their social security or veterans’s benefits, for example? Are we within 10th Amendment territory? I hope not!

  14. One of the great consequences of an overturn of Roe will be the effect on women of color who have long suffered the imbalance of inclusion in the battle for reproductive rights.

  15. Making Roe disappear will not hurt the exclusive clientele of magats, the wealthy. By design. If there really was a kristian gawd there would be no magat party.

  16. My story is similar to Robbie’s. Thanks, Robbie! Birth mom’s body, her business and her choice! True then and true now. And I’m with Monotonous Languor, too. Justice Sotomayor was so powerful—this whole issue is indeed a stench! It stinks!

  17. I think what’s missing in the debate are other practical matters such as, if states can criminalize abortion, what will the penalty be for women who have abortions? How many otherwise law-abiding citizens are the “family values” GOP willing to lock up, destroying lives and families in the process? At an incarceration cost upwards of $38 thousand per prisoner per year, how many resources are they planning to devote to this “project” of criminalizing women? Who is going to pay for all this? If the minority of citizens who would impose this upon the rest of the country already are unable or unwilling to provide homes and secure lives for the 430,000 children in foster care right now, who will pay for and care for the hundreds of thousands of additional unwanted children banning abortion would lead to?
    I think we need to be harping on these questions and demanding those who so capriciously seek to ban abortions based on their personal religious beliefs, defying the Constitution they claim to love, answer them. And we should not allow them to evade the questions, these are practical questions that must be answered.

  18. A few years ago, I was doing research and found Gerri Santoro. She was photographed on the floor of a hotel after a botched and illegal abortion. The police took her photo and it went viral back in ’73. They made a documentary about it in ’95. Just google her name and see for yourself. This will be the future of the country if they ban abortions.

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