The line from the Dobbs abortion decision by Samuel Alito that has been quoted the most is that the court was “egregiously wrong from the start” when it decided the landmark case of Roe v Wade in 1973. Linda Greenhouse pointed out in the Sunday Times that “the arrogance and unapologetic nature of the opinion are breathtaking.” She is right.
Alito and his right-wing compatriots didn’t have to make such a big point of telling the seven justices who voted in the majority in Roe – five of whom were appointed by Republican presidents – how wrong they were. I am far from a scholar of the Supreme Court and its jurisprudence, but I doubt that there has been such a blunt denunciation by the justices of one court of the members of another in the court’s history.
But it’s not the way it’s written that’s wrong with the Dobbs decision. Who cares if Alito and Thomas and the rest of them are showing off for their Federalist Society buddies? It’s what the majority on the court are saying to women: that you should never have been given this right to control your reproductive life in the first place, and we’re here to send you right back to the kitchen where you belong.
It's like Alito and the Republican Party he speaks for are saying that they’ve had enough of this women’s lib crap. It’s over. Forget the advances women have made over the last 50 to 60 years. Forget all that equal pay for equal work stuff. Forget Title IX. Forget the whole thing about women’s rights and equal rights. We’re going right back to where we were “from the start,” as Alito so helpfully put it, and we’re doing it by taking your bodies from you.
It’s not about the babies. It’s about the women. It’s not about pregnancy. It’s about power.
No court would have the audacity to come along and tell a woman whether or not she should have sex, and yet that is exactly what Alito and the Republican Party are doing when they assert that they, or “the states” can tell a woman whether or not to bear a child. There are not many things in life that are either up or down, black or white, but this is one of them. Either it’s the woman alone who decides whether or not to have sex, or it’s rape. Either it’s the woman alone who decides whether or not to bear a child, or it’s rape.
When who gets to decide depends on gender and gender alone, there is no “equality.” There is no equivalence for men. There is no decision in a man’s life the court would dare to turn over to “the people and their elected representatives,” as the Dobbs decision purports to do to women.
It’s not their arrogance. It’s not even their wrongheadedness and stupidity. They do it by legal fiat and they do it with words, but it’s rape all the same.
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