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Legislatively Speaking

Kavanaugh and A Nation’s Short Memory on Abortion

Lena C. Taylor

Susan Collins we told you so. From the rafters to the floor, women were shouting at their TVs during Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 confirmation hearing. We knew it, we knew it, we knew it. We knew, while he sat there auditioning for the job of Supreme Court Justice, not to believe him, when he talked about the significance of precedent. We knew that given the chance, once he was confirmed, “precedent” would go out the window. At least, when it came to Roe V. Wade. Right now, many of us feel a cool breeze wafting through the air because the window is open.

It is with that reality that I have followed the oral arguments being presented to the nation’s highest court. The case, at hand, involves whether to invalidate the Mississippi law that bars most abortions after 15 weeks. Widely viewed as a run-around piece of legislation on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in this country, the Supreme Court is signaling a willingness to circumvent established law. Currently, abortions are permissible prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy. If the six conservatives on the court have it their way, Mississippi’s law will likely stand. It’s been a slow build-up, but we’ve been facing headwinds on this for years.
Kentucky’s U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has spent the bulk of his career ensuring that like-minded justices would permeate our judicial system. Right down to stealing judicial appointments from former President Barack Obama and incoming President Joe Biden, McConnell and Republicans have worked with a precision focus on shaping the courts for this moment.

We knew that Justice Clarence Thomas voted to overturn Roe in 1992 and he has been a proponent of it ever since. Justice Neil Gorsuch is already on record for being on the side of restrictive abortion laws, but also offered up some deference to precedence in his confirmation hearings, as well. In listing these justices, it would be easy to decry men making decisions over the reproductive health of women. Enter stage right, Justice Amy Coney Barrett who just recently said during these arguments “And so it seems to me that the choice, more focused, would be between, say, the ability to get an abortion at 23 weeks, or the state requiring the woman to go 15, 16 weeks more and then terminate parental rights at the conclusion.” What?!!!

The fact that the emotional, mental and psychological health of women AND girls are not being considered, by a female justice no doubt, is absolutely unbelievable. Barrett is old and educated enough to know that women that have wanted to terminate a pregnancy, prior to Roe V. Wade, often did so through self-induction or risky black-market practices. We can’t afford to forget the unsafe history of unregulated abortions or believe that they will stop because the law changes. Women have proved, legislation be dammed, that they will figure out a way to control their own bodies. They shouldn’t have to risk their lives to do it.

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