Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Lest we be complacent about reproductive rights

A blogger on the Daily Kos posted a really good summary of how Judge Alito and his ilk believe Roe v. Wade, which currently protects a woman from an "unduly burdensome" access to having an abortion, should be enforced:

Now, let's turn to South Dakota. In Alito's world, these restrictions on a woman's right are perfectly legal:

  1. There is only one abortion clinic in the state. It operates only once a week. Sometimes Monday, sometimes Wednesday, depending on when an abortion doctor flies in to the state.
  2. An anti-choice task force is successfully lobbying for a law "requiring that a woman watch an ultrasound of her fetus, that doctors warn women about the psychological and physical dangers of abortion, and that women receive psychological counseling before the abortion, among other measures."
  3. The procedure costs $450. The state refuses to pay any of it, even in cases of rape or incest.. By the way, South Dakota is home to the poorest counties in the nation.
  4. Some women in the state have to travel 700 miles in one day to get the procedure done.
  5. It's not just abortions. The laws also apply to the RU-486 pill.
  6. A law, currently blocked by Planned Parenthood, requires the doctor tell the woman prior to the procedure that "abortion ends the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being."
In short, South Dakota has everything short of an outright ban on abortion (they tried an outright ban, it failed by one vote). The state is a prototype for anti-choice activists who, like Alito, prefer to dismantle Roe on the road to overturning it.

And what if Alito is confirmed and he does indeed overturn Roe? Anti-choice activists will spin it as an issue of state's rights. But in the aftermath of such an action, will states engage in a real dialogue about a woman's right to choose? No. If Alito has his way, several states, including South Dakota, have "trigger laws" which make abortion illegal the minute Roe is overturned. It's not just the red states that have trigger laws. Illinois, one of the bluest in the nation, has such a trigger law automatically outlawing abortion when Roe is overturned.

As a resident of Illinois, I find that last part especially scary, and the whole thing should give all of us, especially a women, pause. As has been said before, Alito, despite whatever collegiality and intellect he may possess, is not what our country needs on the Supreme Court. His influence on abortion will surely be regretted if he is confirmed. Only ignorant complacency could have one faithfully believe that abortion rights will still be safe on a Supreme Court with four staunch conservatives and one sometimes less-staunch conservative on it.

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