Since the leaked draft of a pending decision by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the future of Roe v. Wade, there has been much discussion about precedent or constitutional rights. Justice Samuel Alito, a hyper conservative judge, appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote the draft majority opinion. Whether we can stomach it or not, many of us knew that the handwriting has been on the wall, for some time.
The work of Republicans to pack the court, by hook or by crook, with conservative justices, guaranteed serious changes to women’s reproductive rights. Yet, no one was prepared for Alito to blow up the wall completely. With the precision of stone-age hammerstones, the draft reflects a battering of women’s rights that drag us back to the most primitive of times.
Alito opines that constitutional rights not “rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition,” such as the right to an abortion, are not legitimate rights at all. But…. there is documentation and support for the struggle of women to get control of their body, family planning and reproductive health. Researchers have documented physical proof of abortions that pre-date the birth of Christ. Alito, whose version of history only purports to start with American history, should at least consider the observations provided by Mary Ziegler.
A well-known author on the history of abortion, Ziegler offers information that “for most of the first 100 years of American history, early abortions — before fetal “quickening” (generally defined as the moment when the fetus’s movements can be detected) — were not illegal”. There are newspaper Alito could also benefit from the work done by The Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI), Hidden Voices: Enslaved Women in the Lowcountry and U.S. South Reproduction and Resistance. Their work, which documented how even enslaved women sought abortions (self-induced or otherwise) to end unwanted pregnancies due to rape or forced breeding. But understanding the backlash against Black history and Critical Race Theory (CRT), maybe he missed that lesson in law school. Okay, I just wanted to work in my frustration with the CRT nonsense.
Bottom line, Alito is wrong. Regardless of the constitution and the lack of a direct reference to abortion, we have plenty of proof that abortions have existed and been accepted practice in this country. In 1841, newspaper ads “in the New York Herald and the New York Sun, shows how contraception, cures for sexually transmitted diseases, abortifacients, and abortion services were advertised in New York City” according to Curators at the Library Company of Philadelphia.
While we wait for the final ruling to be released from the nation’s highest court, Alito should at least be honest about one thing. Women have always had reproductive health decisions made for them, by men. After all, the Constitution was written by white men, for white men. The document was flawed <insert slavery here>, as were many of the framers on issues of equity and fairness.