387 - Roe vs Wade rides again | Scoins.net | DJS

387 - Roe vs Wade rides again


Roe vs Wade (1973) was a US court decision that caused a change in abortion law, actually making abortion possible, because the supreme court decision lay above state decisions. Almost, it gave women the choice whether to have an abortion. More recently, Planned Parenthood vs Casey (1992) improved the position (I think). However, Trump's careful positioning of a surplus of hard-line conservatives on the Supreme Bench has (of course, this was the intention) created a position where this very Republican position (that all abortion is wrong) can be rendered as a positive. An internal paper from within the Supreme Court has been leaked and shows that there is currently a majority in favour of over-ruling Roe vs Wade. This would move decisions for or against abortion from the national to the state level; given the laws passed at that level of late (in preparation for such a position, it seems) this would undo to a large degree any protection women might cautiously enjoy. Do read what I wrote earlier,  §373.4, where  I give a fuller description of the previous cases.


Much as I wrote before, the third case, Dobbs vs Jackson Women's Health Organisation (2018, decision not yet reached) is the one at the centre of the current furore. Since Roe vs Wade refers to the Constitution, the due process part of the 14th Amendment,  all law that leans upon the constitution overrules any state legislation. What is at risk here is that overturning the original 1973 decision will unravel all of the consequential law; in a litigious society such as pertains in the US this virtually guarantees that the poor and under-privileged will have even less recourse to abortion.

I continue to see the US as a very dangerous place in which to live. In its way, quite as dangerous as other large nations.

It is, I came to realise, very unclear how many people hold an opinion for or against abortion. The way the media presents this, one sees that there are two sides and the perpetual demand for 'balance' results in an assumption that therefore we have two equal arguments, for and against. By implication, one assumes that equal numbers of people are For and Against. We may well have some pluralistic ignorance, which is what occurs when people begin to assume that they hold a (small) minority opinion when they belong to a far larger proportion of their population holding the same (or similar) opinion. Research published a year ago says there's a 59:39 split and that this is pretty consistent with time. That's a lot more people than I had expected saying abortion is (should be, in their opinion) illegal in almost all cases. Follow the link to read about who it is that thinks which way. [You're right, the Trumpians are agin it, something like a 33% difference with Democrats.] [24]

I did not find any description that was clear about where any lines are drawn. I wanted both a good medical definition and a good legal definition (of where these lines are). I can see that there is an issue of when a foetus is declared to be a person within the meaning of the constitution and other law — at conception or at birth or some less definite point between these moments, suchg as detectable separate heartbeat. I can see that the nation state should have a duty of care for its people, particularly for the health of the mother and the foetus. I can very easily agree that early abortion is far better than late abortion, that pregnancy from forced sex (rape in any form) should be permitted abortion and that abortion is in all cases the woman's decision. The 13th Amendment describes any compulsion to have children as involuntary servitude and that even when a woman has consented to the risk of pregnancy that does not permit the state to force [one] to remain pregnant. I think that the dissenters (to Roe) hold the opinion that every conception has a right to life. I think the counter-issue that they are avoiding is about consent; consent to sex and consent to the inherent risk of pregnancy. I conclude that the position would be far safer if pregnancy and sex could be separated, so that some positive action was required in order to make both parties fertile. In my head, therefore, all males should be made very much responsible for where their seed goes (and  yes, there are issues with stolen seed, delayed seed, forced seed, etc) and that ideally such responsible males would make sure that they cannot cause a pregnancy except by deliberation. I'd prefer the situation to be duplicated by women, too, but far too many men around the world think they have a right to impregnate any women they care to, irrespective of her wishes. This is very wrong and we really do need to change such attitudes. Worse, of course, we should have changed them generations ago; the implication of such assumption is that this is very much a male-oriented world. That is what is wrong.                                                                                                DJS 220503


It would appear I was a bit quick off the mark, for the following day I found far more material and comment – presumably being written while I was myself writing. There is of course widespread (US) reaction approaching panic, based on the assumption that this reversal will occur. That is, that states will soon be able to legislate to ban abortions. That will amount to about half of the states and several have what are known as trigger laws. That said, the provision of abortion is amazingly low in 'red' states, where some 90% of counties have no abortion clinic. What remains to be seen is whether any abortions will be permitted —if the 90% majority occur within the first 15 weeks and 99% in the first 20 weeks, and if the triggered state laws trip at, say ten weeks (or, for Texas, six weeks) we have a whole new era of back street abortions in prospect. The clarity attached to what these 'new' laws actually mean in practice may show that there is a marked over-reaction and some mis-representation. But then we would expect that in the US, where emotional content is far stronger than actual truth. I am not at all saying that abortion should not occur—I'm for it as a woman's choice—I'm saying that presentation of fact in the US is clouded heavily by opinion and bias. I am separately concerned that the US system attaches costs, typically $500, to having an abortion, rendering this an unlikely 'choice' for the many disadvantaged, who it might well be argued are far more in need of an abortion on demand. I continue to think that abortions should not be necessary simply because I have long thought that 'every child a wanted child' is a valid message (and for 'wanted' to mean wanted by the immediate parents, not the police).

Half of US abortions are via medication, which might be managed on your own but is already illegal in three states and a darkly grey area in many more. If a life has been created at conception, then this is foeticide; those assisting are accessories to murder. Thus, legally, a lot centres around the determined moment at which a fertilised cell is declared to be a person and therefore with, specifically the right to life. I find myself returning repeatedly to matters of responsibility and it seems to me that it remains far too easy for the men at fault—and fault a deliberately chosen word if abortion is being considered for reasons other than the health of the putative mother—to escape all consequences. Changing just this and doing so reliably would surely reduce the number of required abortions. I also conclude yet again that the US is a dangerous country not worthy of a visit.

Some 26 states (see [22]) look set to reject abortion in some form or other. This is undoubtedly an assault on the general rights of women; all over the world the right to decide when and whether to give birth is tied to the political, social, and economic rights of women as individuals. So if one right is removed, one would expect diminution in other aspects of the rights of women. There certainly won't be a compensatory move in some other field.

Some states do provide abortions, including New York and California (and Mexico). It would be sensible to predict a surge in demand for services. Not least for there to be funding to cover the costs of low-income, out-of-state women visiting for abortions [21] 

                                                              DJS 20220504

I tried discussiong this topic with my (male) friends and on the whole I think I detected a drift in line with ther 60:40 above. Trying to find out why, it appears that there was a general assumption that the demand for abortion was from couples, implying a failure to apply contraception, or failure to do so successfuly. Thus the issue of desirable parenthood from the male side was somehow a non-issue. Simlutaneously I thought what I was hearing said that while there was a lot of agreement on general issue such as woman's choice (to the indenture that goes with the pregnancy) this was waved aside (and waived) as if largely irrelevant. I would agree that abortion is not an alternative to contraception but I feel strongly that a child should be wanted (and that there are already far too many humans) so I woudl very much prefer that, where an errror has occurred, it can be corrected. I'd certainly rather abortions took place than have so many disadvantaged and disaffected (generally negative) people. When I tried to raise the case(s) against rape or forced parenting, I was given immediate assent but then there was a reversion of content so that I felt these were the exceptions, when I think they pought to be the principal reason for abortions. And if they are not, we have a lot more education to make about contraception. A lack of sex education, then. One of the most vociferous on this topic is under 25. Admit it, you were thinking I'd only asked contemporaries...


[20]   Saahil Desai, The Atlantic, May 3, 2022. Linked pieces include:

[21]  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/05/roe-v-wade-overturn-abortion-rights/629366/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20220503&utm_term=The%20Atlantic%20Daily   Includes the thought that perhaps medics campaigned against midwives as competition for their services. You might research the Del-Em device. 

[22]  https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/alito-leaked-roe-opinion-abortion-supreme-court-civil-rights/629748/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20220503&utm_term=The%20Atlantic%20Daily which, among many valid points, shows that the repeal of Roe represents a vision of federal law as being weak, perhaps deliberately so. That affects directly many marginalised groups. 

[22] https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2021/10/26-states-are-certain-or-likely-ban-abortion-without-roe-heres-which-ones-and-why

[23] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade

[24] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/05/06/about-six-in-ten-americans-say-abortion-should-be-legal-in-all-or-most-cases/

[25]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-week_abortion_ban and various media, such as the BBC.

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