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I support overturning Roe v. Wade and so should you

Yep, your rights are at risk but not the way you think

Nope.  I am not a anti-choice advocate.  I am firmly pro-choice.  I wholeheartedly support a woman’s right to choose.  But when I read “hair-on-fire’ posts like Digby’s complete with a list of anti-choice proposals from Katha “Obamabot feminist” Pollitt, I think it’s time to dump this turkey and adopt a new strategy:

Katha Pollitt draws attention to the startling fact that at least 53 of the new House members and five new Senators are hardcore anti-choice zealots and makes the important observation that all this blather about the GOP keeping the abortion issue roiling for cynical political purposes is just that: blather. The anti-choice zealots will be hard at work whittling away a woman’s right to own her own body at the state level, while the GOP Congress will do its part to roll back whatever they can. And at some point, the movement is going to demand that their efforts to pack the court with wingnuts are rewarded with a reversal of Roe. They will get their case.


One would like to believe that our nominally Democratic majority in the Senate will not advance any of this legislation and if they do our allegedly pro-choice president will veto it. But I fully expect that abortion will be on the able as a bargaining chip when the Democrats try to fashion compromises on economic matters — women will be asked to give once again so that the Teabaggers can be appeased with something that isn’t vitally important to the people. (Well, except the women, but they hardly qualify.)

Controversial statement: The best thing that could happen to women in this country is for the court to overturn Roe.  Stick a fork in it it’s done.

For too long, American women have used Roe as a proxy for equal rights.  And year after year, the right wing zealots have cleverly chipped away at Roe until it’s only a right in theory in some states.  What does that say for women’s equality?

Let’s think of the ramifications if Roe is overturned.

1.) Young women of child bearing age who find themselves pregnant will be significantly impacted.  They also will be mad as hell.  It’s about time they started putting up some kind of fight.  The real right to be argued is not privacy.  It’s equality.  Are women equal?  Once you settle this question, the game is over for the social conservatives.  Game, set, match.  The world is very different from the 60’s and 70’s.  Women are not going back.

2.) Conservative women will have fewer reasons to go to the polls.  Most of them are driven by the romaniticization  of the fetus.  Once Roe is overturned, they will have “won”.  There will be fewer reasons to tune into Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly.  Maybe they’ll notice that they are about to become destitute if the people they put into office are about to pull the plug on their social security and their veterans benefits.  Plus, the new law of the land will affect their granddaughters, some of whom will now be forced to bear the children they didn’t want to have, spend an exorbitant amount of money to go to states where they can have an abortion or face dangerous alternatives.  It will take a few tragic infections and deaths but, before you know it, everyone will have a story to tell of what happened to someone in their family.  Elections have consequences.  It is time that these conservative women acknowledged their part in these tragedies, especially since we have been able to avoid the pain, suffering and deaths for 40 years.

3.) Neither party will be able to use Roe as a political football to terrify their voters to the polls.  I don’t know about you but I am sick of this crap.  Neither party gives a flying f^&* about women, their health or their futures.  Let’s drop the pretense.  Once Roe is out of the way, women of both persuasions can legitimately ask, “What have you done for me lately?”  Call me crazy but I can see a lot of women getting elected to Congress if Roe is overturned just so they can finally represent their own interests.  And once we hit that 30% mark, we’re golden, ladies.  That’s the point at which the government starts to go our way.

But the parties have no intention of getting rid of Roe.  The Republicans have just as much to gain from keeping it as a whipping girl as the Democrats need it as bait.  Roe will just become a specter and personally, I don’t want even my proxy rights to be degraded into nothingness.  It’s hard enough being a woman in the corporate R&D world, let alone as a second class citizen of the United States whose rights are negotiated away on a daily basis. As long as Roe is the law of the land, the focus will always be on “morality”.  Whose morality?  Does the state get to decide morality for everyone or just women?  Are women always going to be at the mercy of someone else’s conscience?  Does the establishment clause in the first amendment apply only to men? Those are the questions that need to be answered, not whether you have the right to decide in private to do something you do not have the means to carry out.

Yes, it’s scary to dump Roe.  Yes, a lot of women depend on it to move forward in their lives.  But killing Roe would send shock waves through the country.  We should not be afraid to stand up for ourselves and demand recognition as free and equal persons, competent and able to decide  for ourselves our own religions,  consciences, bodily integrity and destiny.

So, take it down.  Take it down now.  The sooner the better.  Give the Supreme Court a reason to reverse it.  I not only dare you.  I WANT you to do it, John Roberts.  I have two daughters and I am not afraid of losing Roe.  I’m more afraid that they will lose everything else.

Reversing Roe will take us right back to the seventies when we dumped the ERA for a sham alternative.  Time to regroup and go all the way this time.

Dump Roe.


120 Responses

  1. Kinda like Rangel advocating for the draft in order to stop the war.
    Part of me is saying: I am past these problems, let the young women who preferred Obama over Hillary worry about it.
    But the argument to be made is: what about the Jane Crow executive order? What about Obama saying that choice was not a civil right but a morality issue?
    Why should I be more scared of the Rs than of the Ds?

    • Does anyone have the right to decide for you what is moral or not? You should be asking yourself why men are excused from the protection of their morals.

      Dump it. Do it now.

      • Nope. The governemt only has the right to decide what is legal or illegal. The move to morality being the deciding factor as to whether something can or can’t be done in a society is the first step towards a theocracy.


      • Making the bio-ignorant nutjobs argue it from a medical standpoint rather than from legal/moral abstract principles takes the wind out of their fake moralism FAST. It also deprives the Phony Piety Club of their use of mass-media’s squeamishness to venture too far down that Icky Pink Aisle where the cootie-ridden female plumbing supplies are kept.

      • Yeah, I’ve been tending toward that strategy for a while now, RD, but you’ve presented the case and rationale so beautifully! Let the young gals fight for the rights they so take for granted. I’d like to see more focus on equal pay, on increasing more women in positions of power in the government, and, oh yeah, on an all out attack on misogyny and gender discrimination. Women’s rights are human rights!

  2. I’m thinking on it…

    You might have an idea there, RD.

  3. I’m with you, RD. Roe’s a shaky foundation anyway, hence we always need “them” to protect us.

    I say have the damn argument right up front, and base choice on the 13th amendment banning “involuntary servitude”. That also shuts up the “when is it a human life?” argument, since even another fully conscious human being can’t have the use of my physical body without my consent. I have no problem with someone who believes that a woman OUGHT to choose to sustain that life, especially in later months. Just like I think it’s okay to say that you think a parent OUGHT to give their kid a kidney if he/she needs one. I just have a beef with the state forcing the parent to do so by law.

    All of this “privacy and medical procedures” is bullcrap, and dances around the issue. Choice isn’t about medical ethics and confidentiality. It’s about who OWNS a woman’s body.

    • It’s an equality issue plain and simple. Keep it simple. Don’t go dragging unnecessary legal reasoning into it. Are we equal to men or aren’t we? On what basis are we unequal and who decides? Believe me, the Republicans do not want us to go this route. They would rather have Roe there in place than an equal rights amendment that would marginalize their most conservative supporters.

  4. Riverdaughter,

    Well, since men define who women are and should be, they feel they have the right to tell us what is moral and what isn’t and control our bodies, as well as our minds. After all, being moral is a “woman thing” because when men engage in what is considered immoral acts,the male definition is simply it’s just “boys being boys.” How convenient!

    Something else to think about…for those who do believe in God or a “higher power” from whence we all came, ask yourselves why God gave us “free will” to choose how we lead our lives. So, where do men get off telling women what’s best for them and what they can and cannot do? Based on the condition of this man’s world, it appears it’s the men who need to focus on cleaning up their own act, which should be a full time job, and leave the women the hell alone.

    • Exactly!!
      Men have a cult built to excuse all their faults, and a woman’s ‘job’ is to clean up after them.

      I know one brilliant woman that would love to be given the chance, just the freakin’ chance to clean up the fifth in the White House and congress.

      Hillary is the woman that could set the record straight.
      She is the ONE that has fought for women all her life.

  5. And don’t forget that many religions don’t go batshit crazy over abortion the way that some Christian sects do. So, you have to ask yourself, are Christians more equal than other religious people?

    Are we saying that American conservative Christians are more moral than the Japanese? Or Jews? Or Buddhists or *insert name of religion here*

  6. Damn it RD, that is a radical idea, but extremely well thought out. The more I read the posts here, the more it dawns on me that things MUST get worse before they get better.

    One of the things that those of us that are rational have as a huge obstacle in convincing the populace to turn away from the madness that is this current government is the lack of education of the electorate. With organizations like the mainstream media and the Texas School Board poisoning the minds of the youths, the battle to demonstrate where this country was compared to where it is now is just daunting. The young women that actually BELIEVED the meme that Obumbles is a feminist vs. the woman who has DEDICATED HER LIFE’S WORK to the advancement of women and girls all over the world is not only a shame on them, but also a shame on this nation. A shame on this nation for leading so many women astray.

    Sadly, this is exactly what is happening to so many groups in this country. Gays are another group that are falling into this trap. How so many could support Obumbles over the HIGHEST RANKING GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL TO MARCH IN A GAY PRIDE PARADE befuddles me. Blacks as well. To support a man just because of his skin color is the OPPOSITE of what MLK preached while getting beaten and spit on. It is my contention that it is due to an overall bastardization of the education of the youth. Compound this with a media that is designed to hype up nonsense vs. facts, our task is daunting.

    Your proposal to end the precident that is Roe vs. Wade could be just the thing to start us down the correct road. Lord knows we need it…..

    Great post, RD…..

    Hillary 2012

  7. I think it’s the young women in this country who need to figure out if it’s important and vote accordingly. I will support them either way. I’m tired of that sh*t.

    • How wrong you are. All women are held hostage by Roe, both young and old. Roe keeps us from focusing on equality and concentrates all of our attention on our genitalia. It’s the equivalent of a burqa. It strips us of our humanity, our intelligence and our agency and focuses our attention on baby making. That affects women of all ages.
      Throw it out and let’s keep our eyes on the prize.

      • I understand that, but it’s a volley ball game that never stops. I’m tired of it and the LBGT game that the politicians keep playing. I’m tired of those two games. Both issues are about life and death. Women die because of lack of safe abortion services, and as we’ve seen recently teens have suffered because of our intolerance of a group. I understand all that, but I’m simply tired of the games both parties play. I think the politicians want to tire the liberals so we can just walk away from the political system. I think I’m there.

      • Btw, I understand that if the politicians can decide for a woman about her body, then nobody is safe. Soon vasectomy will be outlawed because ever spérm is sacred. When I say that I’m tired of the game, it’s not to say that I don’t understand all that’s at stake.

      • I don’t know, RD. It is an interesting idea, brilliant, tempting in some ways, but women will die, and many who do will be poor and/or old.


        • And/or young, I meant!!



        • That will be the argument. I’m not saying there isn’t a risk and I’m not insensitive to it. But in some states, Roe is already pro forma. As Sandress says be,ow, it would give women an opportunity to organize and provide underground services. But I really think the risk would be short lived.

          No advancement is without risk. But women would be better off without Roe and with an equal rights amendment. Should we postpone this until the zealots win completely and leave Roe an empty vessel and accept everything that goes with that, including the right of the religious to impose their morality on everyone? Let both parties hang it over our heads and destroy the middle class in the process?

          Get rid of it. Things will change. Time to go to a higher energy level.

          • “No advancement is without risk. But women would be better off without Roe and with an equal rights amendment.”

            This is the kernel of your argument, and can be turned into THE defining question for a new awakening / course for women whether or not they identify as “feminists”:

            “Would women be better off without Roe and with an Equal Rights amendment instead?”

  8. **** (four stars)

    I am totally sick of being held hostage by Roe v Wade.

  9. Great post, RD! Roe has kept women under the Rs and Ds thumbs for far too long. Imagine how frightened they all would be if women actually did take back our power and worked to overturn it. They have also used it far too long to divide liberal and conservative women. Imagine if women really started working together!

    • Yes! Take back your power and work to overturn it. It never was what you thought it was and it has held you back for forty fucking years.
      Settle the equality question and no one can decide your morality ever again.

  10. I thought we were wrong when we pushed abortion rights ahead of the ERA. I said it then, and I believe it even more now. We can’t roll back the clock, but we can make corrections. Making abortion sort of legal divided women then, and it continues to divide us now.

    • It’s never too late to fight for equality.

    • Heyyyy, I thought I was Ellie. I’ve been beating my drum about RvW for ages: esp. how the lucrative two-party game of Uterine Football would be the proverbial cow on the tracks stopping meaningful Health Care. The de facto practice of yoking women to the status as 2nd class demi-humans and partisan ATMs relies on keeping the rights on paper while the nutjobs amp up the persecution.

      How neatly this serves the purpose of guilt-mongering and deriding female support for being Dem Man’s Burden, and for indulging in Spelunking (cave-ins spread throughout the Dems) on You Name It.

      Longterm strategies that will work, IMO, are: (a) Arrest us and try us or leave us the fuck alone on ALL abortions, including non-elective, spontaneous ones, and (b) make “illegal” elective abortion and contraception red tape safer and more accessible.

  11. This is really a great idea. NOW, Ms magazine, and all of the other “feminist” organizations will stop using Roe as a litmus test and start asking, Does that person believe in and support the equality of women? Does that person actually respect women?

  12. What will the basement dwelling Cheeze snack bloggers do when they can’t whisk the G F down to the local clinic to get rid of their indiscretions?

  13. The idea of a revolutionary. I like.

    I don’t know if any anti-abortion person has really thought this through. Imagine if all pregnant women gave birth as required by law. The mothers without a father willing to share the cost would have to sue for child support. Government agencies would have to assist the mothers in filing the necessary paperwork, as they do in almost all, if not all, states now. Each state would be buried in thousands of child support cases, requiring additional judicial resources; enforcement of child support orders would overtake the regular workings of the government; the government would have to provide welfare to the children whose fathers refused to pay and child care for the mothers so they could go to work; and the deadbeat dads would hate, hate, hate paying any money at all and would hate, hate, hate having their federal and state tax refunds intercepted.

    Still, many deadbeats would rather not work than pay child support and would choose to go into hiding. So, unless the government is willing to let the children die for lack of essentials (food, shelter, clothing, all of which cost a lot of money) AFTER they’re born, the government would have to pick up the slack. Thus, all those who believe in the “sanctity of life” would see their tax dollars going to support those very lives. I’m sure they’d just love that. Poetic justice.

    I’d really love it, except for all the suffering so many women would have to go through. That’s where I get stuck.

    • My sense is that the suffering would be minimal and short. If you take away Roe, you take away most womens’ assumption of equality. It is not. Once it is gone, they’ll discover just how unequal life really is in all aspects of their lives.
      There will still be states that will make abortion available, like NY, NJ, CA. If you can afford to get to them, you should be ok. Support groups would spring up overnight to help women. But the attention should turn to equality because when you are equal, it will be much harder to justify unequal treatment in healthcare decisions based on someone else’s religion and morality.

      • I don’t know that you can assume states will be able to make abortion legal. The majority of the US Supreme Court might base its decision on a new right of the fetus, from the moment of conception (not implantation) to life. That would make abortion illegal in every state. that would make some forms of contraception illegal. That would make every woman who miscarries a suspect.

        Yes, it might motivate people but then the only way back is a Constitutional amendment.


        • That’s what worries me too. If a fetus is given rights equal to or greater than the mother’s. If contraception is declared “murder.”

          However, as with the situation in this country in general, things may have to get worse before they get better. (Which I think is part of what RD is saying.) And, in practice, these draconian measures, once people realize how much the cost to them financially (and I’m not even speaking of the parents, but society as a whole), may fail quite rapidly.

          There is, of course, always the Lysistrata course of action – no sex for the men until we get what we want.

          • However if the ERA is the law of the land, how do they usurp out right to have control over our bodies?

            The argument about fetus vs. mom is a moral one – not really a legal one.

    • One of our urban legends is that all “deadbeat dads” are highly-paid professionals who just don’t want to support their kids.

  14. I like it. I mean, I’m a big fat pragmatist, so I think if we’re going to push this one we need to be working simultaneously on contingency plans to minimize the catastrophic effects. Something like the underground feminist coalitions that provided safe, illegal abortions before Roe. But if we can get that kind of scaffolding in place, taking down Roe will do a hell of a lot more good than harm. It should never have been made a privacy issue to begin with. And I don’t want a law that can be overturned. I want a constitutional amendment.

    • I’m in. Where do we start?

      • “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

      • Me too.

      • Well, since every major women’s org has been raising money on this issue for DECADES now, maybe we can point out that the lobbying they’ve been doing hasn’t been game-changingly helpful. Maybe they can help put contingency plans in place. Then, once those are there, we force the discussion, not sure how yet.

        Or we can try our damnedest to elect a woman President who can push the ERA through as a legacy.

        When I have money, I like to contribute to http://www.ms4c.org/

    • Would that be a re-written ERA ?

      • What was wrong with the first one? Besides, we have to get rid of Roe first.

        • Nothing, I guess. I guess that’s what was wrong.

          • I think the time is right. We’re in every profession. We’ve outnumbered men in college and professional schools for years. We fight and get killed in wars. We get sent into dangerous places. Back in the 70s, I was just a girl. I never grew up with restrictions on what I could learn or do. Yeah, life is not equal. Work and studying the sciences still favor men. Maternity leave is nonexistent. Pay, but particularly opportunity is not equal. But the genie is out of the bottle. The things that frightened people back in the 70s have already come to pass and the world did not end.
            It’s time. Let the conservatives try to tell us we’re not equal. Let’s turn the tables om them.

  15. Amen sister. I’m very happy that you had the guts to post this. EVERYTHING you’ve said about Roe is true. It is a bad law to begin with as it’s entire focus is on “sustainability” of the fetus outside the womb & it is used as a political carrot and stick by the parties, both of which don’t give a flying fig about women.
    I’ve always said the question is: are women human beings entitled to personal autonomy or not? Getting rid of Roe may very well have women demanding an answer to THAT question instead of on the “sustainability of the fetus.”

  16. Hmm…glad I checked in here this evening, not a usual time for me. That’s a very thought-provoking post and I’m inclined to agree with you, although I might feel differently if I were of child bearing age.

    If Roe were overturned it might take another set of cases referred to the Supremes to “establish” when life begins….the fig leaf currently providing cover for pharmacists and others “of conscience” who object to filling prescriptions for birth control.

    Unless, of course, as you suggest we pivot to focus on demanding equal treatment under the law… then the refusal to fill those prescriptions would also come under the unequal treatment rubric.

    BTW, a number of good posts from you recently..Brava!

  17. “The real right to be argued is not privacy. It’s equality. Are women equal? ”

    Not sure why you think a gender equality argument would win the day. I can well imagine many “pro life” folks saying, “You’re right, men and women are equal, and so both should be equally forbidden from having abortions.” Just like the old line about the law “equally” banning both the rich and the poor from sleeping under the bridges of Paris. Men and women are NOT equal in this respect, as only women are subject to the possibility of pregnancy, and all the risks and potential negatives thereof.

    I do agree that Roe has had many harmful effects. And that the “privacy” framing of abortion rights is one of them. The whole “privacy” rationale smacks of a Victorian morality. That, somehow, abortion is shameful, and that a woman’s right to one is more about keeping it hidden than it is about anything else.

    I think abortion (and reproductive freedom and bodily integrity) in general should be thought of as a matter of autonomy, of liberty. No one, man or woman, should be forced to become a parent against his or her will. Nor should anyone (which, of course, in reality, means any woman) be forced to remain pregnant against her will. In practical terms, as men and women are not “equal” in this respect as a matter of biology, both men and women should have the right to use contraceptives (for men, condoms and vasectomies, for women, diaphrams, the pill, tubal ligation), but women should also have the right to have abortions.

    And if a straight-forward ruling to this effect cannot, for whatever reason, be made by the US Supreme Court under the Fourteenth Amendment, then it should be up to each State to so decide, either as a matter of State constitutional law or by legilslation. Many States were on the verge of doing so when Roe was decided., and some had already enacted limited abortion rights. This movement was cut short by Roe. And, for the last 40 years, we have to hear the “pro lifers” tell us that abortion rights were something the Supreme Court dreamed up and forced on an unwilling country. We have to hear about how the US Constitution says noting about abortion, and how the Court “created” this right. And, as has been mentioned, the Right has consistently whittled down the ruling. A never ending battle to restrict and refine the ruling in Roe to mean less and less has ensued. And the right has mostly won it.

    Meanwhile, those who favor reproductive freedom and autonomy have been hindered by Roe. It is hard to made a full throated argument in favor of the ruling, its convoluted reasoning, and “the right to privacy.” While the ruling also serves as a distraction from the real issue, which is not “privacy,” but reproductive freedom and bodily intergrity. And it is hard to energize supporters at the State level to vigorously oppose efforts to restrict the right when, supposedly, there is a US Supreme Court ruling acting as a “backstop.”

    • It isn’t about “equal right to have an abortion” it is equal right to personal autonomy. Yep, a bunch of anti-abortion people will say that women are not entitled to personal autonomy re: abortion, which plays right into our hands, because we will then see heads exploding.

      • To clarify: I want those f*ckers to ADMIT that they believe women are not human beings entitled to personal autonomy. I mean, we all KNOW they think that, otherwise a simple medical procedure wouldn’t be an issue. But I want them to have to admit it, in public. Then women can know what we are dealing with — take away the emotions and moralizing about unborn babies and call it what it is. The # of women in the “pro-life” crowd will drop dramatically.

        • Yup.

        • “To clarify: I want those f*ckers to ADMIT that they believe women are not human beings entitled to personal autonomy….I want them to have to admit it, in public.”

          But that was my point–they won’t “admit it.” They will say just the opposite. They will say that women, just like men, have their autonomy respected to the extent that contraceptives (and abstinence, and adoption) are permitted for both, but abortion not for either. Women, in their rhetoric, who claim a right to abortion, are demanding MORE autonomy than men have. They are asking for “special rights.” Just as they say that Gays and Lesbians who demand the right to same sex marriages are asking for “special rights.” To gays and lesbians, they say you already have the right to marry, ie to marry someone of the other gender, just as heterosexuals do. But you want something more and different.

          Of course it makes no sense in either case, but in both cases it allows them to pay lip service to “equality” while denying it in substance. But if you think they are going to come out and “admit” that women should have less autonomy than men, I think you are very much mistaken.

          In my opinion, if the right to an abortion was grounded in notions of freedom and autonomy (reproductive and bodily control), then the issue of “equality” would be less forefronted. And that would mean an appeal to spurious “equality” would be less effective. But making equality the basis of the argument allows the opponents of abortion to concede that the rules for men and women should be formally “equal,” while still denying women abortion rights.

          • You are missing the point. RD is talking about CHANGING THE CONVERSATION.Instead of talking about a “woman’s right to have an abortion” or a “woman’s right to choose” starting talking about a “woman’s right to autonomy” and keep talking about THAT. When anti-woman people (and that is exactly what they are) start harping about “special rights” you demand they answer the question: Are women human beings with a right to personal autonomy. LEAVE ABORTION OUT OF IT. It is a yes or no question WITHOUT QUALIFIERS. If anyone tries to qualify it with “Yes, but when it comes to having a baby” YOU CUT THEM THE F*CK OFF. No, a woman is a human being or she isn’t. If you qualify your answer, then you are saying she isn’t. point.blank.period.

        • Exactly, angienc. “Do you believe rape should be legal?” “No!” “Do you believe unprovoked physical assault should be legal?” “No!” “Do you believe a person should be forced by law to donate blood, sperm, eggs, bone marrow, or organs?” “No!” “So you believe in personal bodily autonomy?” “Yes.” “Then you believe in abortion.” “No.”

          My personal argument is that unless women are allowed to abort, they are second class citizens. If so, they should be allowed to abort female fetuses, at least, if not male fetuses.

    • Autonomy flows from equality.

      • But men and women simply are NOT equal when it comes to this issue. For women to have control over their own bodies with relation to pregnancies, they must have a right that men cannot, by definition, have.

        Women, and only women, have a vulnerability to pregnancy. One needn’t be a “difference” or “gender” feminist, nor, paradoxically, a male chauvanst, to recognize this fact, and to recognize the implications of it.

        I agree with you on an abstract, philosophical level, that freedom and autonomy flow from equality. But, unfortunately, politics and law (even constitutional law) rarely go that deep. Yes, you can make the case that, since men can’t get pregnant, the only way to have equality between the sexes is to have abortion rights for women. That will ensure that both genders have the same level of control over their own bodies.

        But our politics and our legal regime operates at a cruder level. Constitutionally, gender discrimination is not even recognized as a “suspect” category (as race is), for purposes of equal protection. Add to that, the notion that, facially, anti abortion laws don’t single out women (men are not allowed to have abortions either, and less facetiously, men can be guilty of providing abortions or aiding and abetting them). Thus, even the ERA would not settle the question, if it were interpreted the way the equal protection clause is.

        I’m not denying that abortion rights are a necessary component in the creation of gender equality, I’m just saying that, politically and constitutionally, I think abortion rights would be better protected by a focus on liberty in the realms of politics and law (as in the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment). If the Roe Court (and subsequent Courts) had clearly grounded a woman’s right to an abortion in notions of autonomy and liberty, instead of doing what they did and made it a matter of “privacy,” then I think we would have been much better served.

        • I would argue that anti abortion laws do single out women. It deprives women of the protection of the establishment clause in the first amendment. Not all religions prohibit abortion and not all cultures consider abortion immoral. To deny women the right to her own conscience is imposing a religious and moral restriction on her that is not imposed on any man. What interest does the state have in depriving women of her constitutional right to her own conscience?
          I am aware of the fact that race is treated differently by the law. But now is the right time, I would say past time, to change that.
          I am not a lawyer but how does one legitimately argue in this day and age that women are not equal persons under the law, as equal as someone of a different race? All the arguments against equality don’t hold water anymore.

          • I think you are completely misconstruing the establisment clause. It does NOT forbid laws merely because there is a moral basis for them, even if that basis is grounded in a religion or group of religions. Morever, most laws have some sort of moral basis, and more often than not, the morality involved overlaps with moral precepts shared by some, but not all, religions. To use some extreme examples, “not all cultures” consider suicide bombing to be immoral, or female circumcision, and so on. Yet those practices can be banned by the government, even though those bans coincide with general Judeo Christian morals. You are also overbroadly stating some sort of “right of conscience.” The State is allowed to make rules that force you to behave differently than what your “conscience” might dictate. Your conscience might think that murder is fine, but that doesn’t ,mean your rights are violated by laws prohibiting it. And any law regarding pregnancy and childbirth is, by definition, only going to apply to women. As for the interest the State has, it would say it is the interest in the life of the fetus.

            I completely agree with you that gender should be considered as suspect a category as race and that all of the arguments against equality do not hold water. And that the ERA should have been passed long ago.

            I understand that you are not a lawyer, that’s why I am attempting to talk about constitutional doctrine with you. As I said, the argument that the Right will make is NOT that women are not equal to men. They will frame the argument in terms of the rights of the fetus, and “equally” forbid both men and women from interfering with those rights. They will say that women, just like men, can abstain from sex if they don’t want children. Or use contraceptives. Or put the child up for adoption, after he or she is born. Which, again, is why I don’t think pushing the equality argument is the best case here.

            As I said, the better claim, at the political and constitutional levels, is that fundamental rights are at issue. Not only the right to choose to be a parent, or not, but the right to have control over one’s body. I think WMCB is on the right track with this:

            “I say have the damn argument right up front, and base choice on the 13th amendment banning ‘involuntary servitude.’ That also shuts up the ‘when is it a human life?’ argument, since even another fully conscious human being can’t have the use of my physical body without my consent. I have no problem with someone who believes that a woman OUGHT to choose to sustain that life, especially in later months. Just like I think it’s okay to say that you think a parent OUGHT to give their kid a kidney if he/she needs one. I just have a beef with the state forcing the parent to do so by law.”

            Except that the 13th Amendment has always been interpretted pretty narrowly, as dealing only with slavery as it existed in ante bellum America, whereas the Due Proecess clause of the 14th Amendment has been interpretted broadly. But the underlying issue, as I see it, is as WMCB frames it. The State is colonizing your body when it forbids abortion. It is denying you your most basic liberty and property rights, those that pertain to your own being. To me, that is the essense of the issue, and the horror of sustaining anti abortion laws. It is totalitarian. It places the State above everything. The gravaman of the problem is not that the State is treating men and women differently (which would be the case whatever the law said, as only women can get pregnant), nor that the State is trying to dictate a religion to you, but that the State is siezing control of your being, of the inner workings of your body, of YOU yourself. This is what I believe the Court in Roe should have focussed on, not some wishy-washy “medical privacy” rationale. And that is what, I believe, could fire up the broadest coaltion at the State level, politically and in court.

          • This is not a judeo-Christian country and if you are lawyer, you should know that. What you are suggesting is that chistians are more equal than people of other religions and that they are more moral and that we should follow their lead and I don’t agree with that.
            Many of the laws we have to refer to religious/moral teachings refer to acts that affect other people and are more or less universally accepted, such as do not steal, do not murder, do not lie. But abortion is NOT universally prohibited. Many religions are neutral when it comes to abortion. Why should those of us who do not subscribe to Christianity be forced to comply witness this proscription ? And why should catholic bishops hold more sway over our bodily autonomy than our own consciences? I do see it as an establishment issue. I have the right tom determine whether this is a moral act or I don’t have this right. Men are not forced to accept Catholicism or christian fundamentalism. They are not bound by it, their lives are not fettered by a religion they do not accept.
            It is time we determined whether out equality will be decided by a bunch of people living by laws written over 2000 years ago or not.
            I don’t want people deciding which parts of equality I can have anymore. We are equal or we are not. Let’s get a ruling on that first and them see if the state has the right to set limits.

  18. You make some really good points, Riverdaughter. One thing I know is that back in the Reagan days, we had a women’s health clinic on every corner in this town. It was push back, resistance. Now that the Dems have women’s rights all wrapped up, (snark) the closest clinic is four hours away.

  19. Wow!

    Great post RD.

  20. What a relief. It’s been a weak link in the chain for a long long time.

    I think it is exactly what needs to happen. It’s more than a strategy, it’s checkmate.

    Let “them” win that battle and shoo the walking wounded over to the infirmary of the WTF?! crowd.

    No one knows what to do with them over there because snake oil only works on the inexperienced.

    Takes what it takes. Get the critical mass IV’s ready filled with that “autonomy flows from equality” solution. That, too, only comes from experience.

  21. Even if Roe were overturned, not much would change in a practical sense. Something like 85% of US counties have no abortion services. In that case, it’s already like going to another state. I’m sure pro-choice groups would get together to provide the necessary transportation.

  22. Without Roe then, by law, women that may be pregnant are effectively property of the state. That is, no autonomy. And just to protect a possible unborn human life from the evil clutches of a woman currently not under control of the state, the state would need to check every women of child baring age every month. That’s the logical conclusion of no autonomy.

    Make a stand. Dump Roe. Bring the status of women to the forefront, and force the issue to be resolved. Either women are equal and have autonomy, or they are properties of the state.

    Sounds like a movement.

  23. How would it work if the focus was on making sure every woman that wanted it could have really high quality birth control? If the pregnancies didn’t happen, then there wouldn’t be the controversy about when life actually begins.

    All religions don’t believe that life begins at conception like the Catholics do, but it is harder and harder to ignore the scientific and medical information available to us all on the internet about how early that “clump of cells” that I was told about 30 years ago, is actually a little tiny human being…who would deserve protection these days in certain circles if it were are little two inch fish…

    Its hard to see that information now, and reconcile it with the knowledge that for me, at that point in my life, it was a decision that was the right ones. Me personally. Better birth control and more careful control of the situations in which we find ourselves would eliminate the vast majority of pregnancies.

    Is it really so much equality that we lack, or it it our weariness of the overwhelming responsibility to not only provide for the birth control, but to try and judge the character of a man before sleeping with him?

    Much easier to look at from the perspective of being post menopausal, I assure you. We need to free ourselves from dependency on the good graces of the government, but also free ourselves of men that are unworthy of our gifts. Period.

    Yes they get to skate…it has always been such, but if we take responsibility for the birth control, we can enjoy the foolishness and not suffer the consequences. Most of the time…there is some very reliable stuff out there…implants, shots etc. Pregnancy should not come as a surprise often these days. There is no excuse for it. If we want to be independent and free, then we need to take the situation and get it under control…Our control.

    • I’m not into chiding men for being unworthy of our gifts. I don’t subscribe to that kind of feminism.

      • So we don’t chide them…we are just aware of the fact that our destiny lies in the amount of awareness we have of the “situation” we find ourselves in. I am only suggesting we improve that calculus. It won’t eliminate all unplanned pregnancies, but it would provide a start. If we eliminate RvW, then we need to be all about avoiding consequences that we can. I say it gives us some control over our lives to be hyper aware of the character of the men we choose…and to be aware of our own vulnerability to hormones and love and plan accordingly.

        • I think that’s a given. But it’s not really what we are talking about in this post.

        • Actually, I really don’t agree with your last sentence. It sounds very Victorian, as if we need to protect ourselves from men who will take advantage of us. That’s very much not the attitude we should be trying to develop in women. Your approach seems very old fashioned to me. No one would argue that people shouldn’t behave responsibly. But women shouldn’t be considered victims of men who are sweet talked and seduced into committing acts against their own better judgment. Women are not more virtuous.

    • Carolyn, I don’t care HOW much women take on responsibility for birth control and being good judges of character. Your argument is still effectively “Women keep your knees together unless you’re sure”. That is just another way of making women take on responsibility and abdicate freedoms. It is another way of making women second class citizens.

      Birth control fails. Women get raped. Women who are happily pregnant have their circumstances change suddenly. Fetuses turn up with terrible health issues. ABORTION WILL ALWAYS BE A FACT. And while we can minimize it, it can and must remain available to all women at all stages of pregnancy. Otherwise women become de facto second class citizens.

      Also, abortion is not a sad tragedy for all of us. I can see pictures of fetuses as well as anyone. They have eyes and toes and they move, and oh boy, they’re made of people parts. That does not change the fact that nobody has any right to tell me what to do with my body. I would abort my GRANDMA if she wanted to camp out in my uterus without my permission.

  24. I see your point but I have to respectfully disagree. And, here’s why: we don’t know what the future holds. Just the same that a woman now has control over her body, all persons should have the right over their bodies.
    I have always thought, especially as a mother of three boys, that the scope of the law should be broadened to encompass that all have the right to control their own person. Not just about abortion.
    There’s just so much to fear for my children’s future. I worry for them because things I never could have imagined would be a law, have become law.
    Even now, it is happening. Things like DNA taking of newborns (which, incidentally, is now a law). There are instances of DNA testing of employees to see if they may potentially be an insurance risk is going on. And, plenty of other examples and potential examples that all could and should be covered under a new kind of law that not only emcompasses the spirit of Roe v
    Wade but expands it to say that all Americans have the right to control their own bodies, irrespective of gender.

  25. Here are some letters I’ve received back in the day:

    Thank you for taking the time to write to me about your support for the Jan 22, 1973, Supreme Court decision on abortion, in which the court invalidated under the consitution all state laws that prohibit or restrict a woman in obtaining an abortion during the first three months of pregnancy.

    I am deeply concerned by any action that seems to so many people to consititute governmental sanction of the destruction of human life. I am particulary concerned by the social and ethical implications of any such action now, given the general atmosphere of violence and callousness toward lie in our society and in our world.

    At the same time, I recognize the inconsistencies and inequities involved in many state laws which permitted abortions for “therapeutic” reasons. They often had the effect of depriving low-income persons of equal access to medical procedures readily available to the more affluent. Such laws often resulted in utter tragedy for women, who, unable to afford travel to another state or abroad to obtain an abortion, turned in desperation to illegal abortions and suffered butchery that often destroyed both the fetus and the mother.

    In the case of Roe, et, al, v. Bolton, Attorney General of Georgia, et. al, the Supreme Court based its decision on the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. Consequently, the decision connot be altered or revoked by statute.

    In response to the high Court decision, several members of Congress have proposed resolutions calling for a Constitutional amendment. I am not at present inclined to support such measures. I believe we must approach amendments to the Constitution with the greatest caution and not proceed in the heat of response to a specific unpopular decision of the Court..even though that decsion may be one which results in strong controversy and deeply felt emotional and personal objections….

    Alan Cranston

    • We are aware of the butchery and injustice of pre Roe days. But Roe has served its purpose and should now be retired. Fighting for equality should eliminate the need for Roe.
      And at this point, we have more to lose by keeping it than by dumping it.
      Think of it this way: would the level of misogyny in the 2008 election season have reached such a fevered pitch if the guys who perpertated it didn’t think we were beholden to them in order to keep a slim hold on these reproductive rights? They can do whatever the fuck they please as long as they don’t take away our right to abortion. Is that what we’ve been reduced to? Do you want to live the rest of your life having to suck up to a bunch of mindless assholes who hold your futures in their hands? And that extends to women of all ages. They treated Hillary like shit because they knew they could get away with it.
      Your self respect, autonomy, dignity, agency is being held hostage by this ruling. Dump it and fight for your equality and the next time a woman of quality and worth runs for president, you can tell the boys to go fuck themselves.

  26. OK, so none of us are virtuous, and none of us are victims. I guess we don’t need protection. We live with that.

  27. Thank you for expressing your views on the subject of abortion. At present, the US Surpeme Court’s ruling is the “law of the land.” It permits an abortion, with certain limitations. Until some change is made in this decision through the legislative or juicial processes, abortion is permissible.

    Conressman Hogan of Maryland has introduced a Consititutional amendment guaranteeing the “right to life” to the unborn. He has also filed a petition to “discharge” the committee from further consideration of his bill and bring it to an immediate floor vote.

    I have signed the petition because I believe this is a very serious matter, one which deserves the benefit of the full legislative process. The importance of a Consitutitional amendment is demostrated by the fact that is must be passec by both the House and Senate by a two-thirds vote. Futhermore, three-fourths of the states must ratify the action of the Congress. The matter of such significance deserves full public hearing and debate.

    The legislative process has begun. The senate judicirary subcoommittee on Constitutional Amendments is holding hearings on an abortion amendment. Thus we must allow the process to follow it’s proper course.

    As this and other legislationcomes before the Congress relating to abortion, please be assured tht I will give your comments my serious and careful consideration. I appreciate your concern.

    Harold T. “Bizz’ Johnson

    I also have letters from the various Judges that I wrote to……..Abortion is a woman’s choice, abortion is a woman’s right to choose!

    • Who is arguing that abortion is not a woman’s right to choose? You are preaching to the converted. You’re thinking too small.

      • Actually that was my agrument when I took action and wrote letters of support for abortion back 37 years ago.
        I wasn’t thinking too small back then, and it’s not small thinking now to demand the rights for all women.

        You have made the same points I made years ago in regards to control of your own body. Today I think of the doctors, many have refused to perform legal abortions, and various pharmacies are refusing to sell “day after pills”………they are not letting women decide. What is going on here is they still consider women a threat to their potency and masculinity. That never seems to change, never.

        I think it’s time for the ERA, there is the fight.

  28. I disagree that ending Roe will end conservatives. They’ll just move the goalposts and move on to other ways to decimate the safety nets of the women that they forced to have children. We’ll hear about “welfare queens.” Or the goalpost will be to privatize education. Or the goalpost will be to go after immigrants.

    You apparently have faith that this is the final frontier and I don’t.

    • I do have faith that women can overcome this obstacle. Indeed, they really don’t have a choice. The more I think about it, the more reasons I co e up with for overturning it. It’s bad law no matter what good it was supposed to do. It has outlived its usefulness and now it’s like an infected appendix, always threatening to burst and cause deadly perotinitis. It has energized the right, helped to usher in years of conservatism into all American institutions and probably had a major influence in why we don’t have Hillary as our president. Why did the RBC dump 18000000 votes? Because many of them were women. They were just women. The Democrats knew they could humiliate women and get them back because of Roe. Is that equality to you? Was it worth it? Instead of emancipating women, Roe has actually lead to further erosion of their rights and autonomy. Can you imagine a bunch of American catholic bishops successfully lobbying congress for restrictions on a woman’s religious freedom and bodily autonomy back in the 60’s or 70’s? Candidate John Kennedy went out of his way to assure voters that he was not beholden to the pope. Today, politicians brag about their affiliation with religious groups and allow themselves to be influenced to show how moral they are. That’s because Roe was a substitute for an equal rights amendment. With equal rights, it is ,ouch harder to argue that reducing a woman’s autonomy is fair or constitutional. That’s not what we have with Roe and it’s time we faced up to it. Get rid of it and you remove some of the fuel of the conservative movement while you add fuel to the feminist movement. Abortion in this country would not go away and in some respects, wouldn’t change that much at all. Abortion is not easy to obtain in the US. It’s a pain in the ass for many women.
      We have to dump Roe and start over.

      • Let me remind you it was the Catholic church and Mormon Church that had strong lobbies prohibiting pregnancy terminations back in the 60’s and 70’s.

        When you say start over, let’s start with those women and show concern for the thousands who have and will experience butchered abortions, let’s start with those who die, and will die a torturous death.

        • Yes, the lobbyists were there. But politicians were more inclined to distance themselves back then.
          If you want to focus on the deaths, then I suspect NOTHING will ever change. I would suggest we come up with viable alternatives to provide assistance during the short time abortion is unavailable.

          • How can you say it will be a short time? I’ll probably belong gone, down in my grave by then.

          • thanks you for this post RD – it is long overdue – an argument I’ve put forth to friend, but never as complete or as eloquently as yours.

  29. RD,

    Very interesting and provocative post, it reminded me of what Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography about the 1948 South African election. The National party campaigned that the then federal government was insufficiently racist and that they would introduce apartheid to correct this. Mandela writes that he and all his colleagues except Oliver Tambo were aghast when the Nationals won. He quotes Tambo as saying that the election was a good thing in that the struggle for equality would be sharpened so that it would be harder for people to sit on the sidelines and so that they would have to take a stand.

    RD, your argument seems to me to be analogous to that of Oliver Tambo. If Roe was overturned, a lot of people would wake up and they would feel that they would have to do something. Same for the politicians, we would quickly find out which are our real friends.

  30. I used to say exactly that: let Roe be overturned. Then they’ll see. But seeing how successful the erosion of women’s rights on a statewide level has been, I’m no longer confident that losing Roe would move us closer to a presumption of equality for women.

    For one thing, in the years since Roe became law, the discussion has moved beyond the woman and her choice. The focus is now on the fetus/child/”person” and that “person’s” rights. Immediate passage of the ERA won’t make the “babies have rights, too!” argument go away. If I am equal to a fetus, what have I gained?

    In a culture where a pharmacist may have more rights than a woman where her own family planning decisions are concerned, I no longer take common sense for granted. If outrage over such profound disrespect was going to drive popular outcry for ERA, why hasn’t it? So now poor women get forced to bear unplanned pregnancies or go to jail for aborting or die trying. Where will the outcry over that come from? These are the same poor women to whom a living wage and education and healthcare are routinely denied. These will be the same poor women who will swell the ranks of the indigent elderly, while the Investor Class gambles away their safety net.

    You’re right that No Roe is the defacto law of the land in much of the country. I just no longer assume that formalizing that nationally is as far backward as we can go.


    • Should we let fear of what might happen stop us from ever doing anything?
      Right now, your chances of losing those rights are greater under Roe than if it were a national crisis affecting half the population. Eventually, the right wing will win out and hollow out Roe to such a degree that it will be meaningless. That’s where we are heading. Do you deny this? And if it is true, what are you prepared to do about it?

      • I’m certainly not saying don’t do anything. Nor do I expect you to have an action plan all detailed for overturning Roe. It’s not that we need to fear whether Roe stays or goes. It’s that whether is stays or goes, women have big problems that aren’t getting fixed.

        What we could do is ignore Roe and fight for ERA anyway. I’m prepared to support that. I’m not convinced the existance of Roe is preventing anyone from wanting ERA. Most women aren’t even aware that unlike other types of humans, we have no Constitutional guarantee of equality at all. Just letting women know that, and creating a vision for how that guarantee could benefit all of us would be a compelling call to arms. While I’m uncertain whether ERA would help with abortion rights, it would help with lots of other rights. And if you’re correct that it would strengthen the case for women being autonomous decision makers where reproduction is concerned, so much the better.

        I’m also prepared, to help make others aware of the many laws passed at the state level, several quite recently, that strip away the right Roe supposedly guarantees. There should be a list at the very least. That would be important in justifying ERA too. You’d think NOW or NARAL or someone would be shouting these outrages from the hilltops. Instead, they’re busy trumpeting “successes” that were really sell-outs and ignoring the awful truth.


      • No, fear cannot rule the day. Never. And the path we are currently on will certainly result, sooner rather than later, in the end of all abortions. I can see the current Supremes deciding that a fetus has a Constitutional right to life, thereby precluding abortion on any grounds whatsoever and taking the issue away from individual states.

        After reading all the comments, I still worry about those women who will suffer most from the insane cruelty of the anti-abortionists, but I think, as part of any plan to stand up to these bullies, we can and must commit to uniting and supporting those women who will most feel the hideous effects. That is imperative.

        However, if we don’t stand and fight, we’re going to lose anyway. I’m in.

  31. Yup, RD – I totally agree with you and have felt this way for a long time now.
    Roe and the ERA are just excuses to keep women tied to a party and giving them nothing. Keep the little woman in line.

  32. […] thinks outside the box: I support overturning Roe v. Wade and so should you But the parties have no intention of getting rid of Roe.  The Republicans have just as much to […]

  33. Excellent post! I have been thinking along the same lines lately. Roe is a tool used by right and left to avoid the underlying issue of EQUALITY. Take the damn tool away from them and let’s get down to brass tacks. We are human beings and should have human rights.

  34. If ever a post were required reading, Riverdaughter, this is it.

    WhatEver would these two parties do without Roe v Wade?????

  35. Uppity, they’d see women for the force they are.

    Indeed, Roe is a cudgel that been used unmercilessly.

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