And apparently, I’m not the only one. In this month’s Elle magazine there are some thoughtful responses to the Supreme Court ruling that upheld a ban on the so-called “partial-birth abortion.” (I say so-called because there is not medical definition of what a “partial-birth” abortion is compared to any other abortion. The language is used to rile people up and is left intentionally ambiguous to allow pro-life prosecutors and politicians to challenge legal procedures under the ban.)
It starts with the Editor’s Letter and extends to a healthy five-page, text-heavy spread in which intelligent women explain why the Gonzalez decision not only sets a terrible precedent for a woman’s right to choose or even her ability to control her own body, but it sets a tone from the bench that says women are second-class citizens, not worthy of the option to make decisions about their bodies for themselves.
The magazine didn’t put the piece on-line so I’ve transcribed a few of my favorite bits for you.
Like these excerpts from Ann Crittenden’s piece in the package:
Just when we thought that patriarchy was an outdated cliche of die-hard feminists, up step the Supremes to breathe new life into old nightmares.
Where have we heard this before? You are too mentally challenged to master the rigors of a higher education, so we’ll keep you out of universities for your own good. You are too gentle for the rough-and-tumble world of business, so we’ll keep you out of the high-paying professions for your own good. You don’t understand complicated political issues, so we’ll spare you the confusion of voting, for your own good. You are too frail for competitive sports, so we’ll keep you from running or swimming or discovering your body’s capabilities, for your own good. And now paternalism’s last stand is over motherhood. You don’t know when you are ready to become a mother; whether you are suited to become a mother; what to do when something has gone dreadfully wrong with your pregnancy. So you can’t decide.
And here’s another bit from Rebecca Traister’s piece:
The protection of reproductive rights, [Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg] said, is not a matter of “some vague or generalized notion of privacy,” but of “a woman’s autonomy to decide for herself her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.”
She lit into the majority’s decision for its open “hostility” toward Roe. She also faulted the argument that a health exception is unnecessary as it would apply to a small percentage of women, writing with vivid italics that “the very purpose of a health exception is to protect women in exceptional cases.”
And this gem from former Planned Parenthood head Gloria Feldt’s piece:
At first I thought: How little trust people have in women’s moral capacity to make decisions! Then I realized the idea of women having the power to decide is what sticks in craws. When women are victims, “ancient notions” aren’t disrupted. When we exercise our volitional powers over procreation and thus our own lives, we profoundly upset the ancient gender applecart.