The entirely predictable Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade prompted some very strong reactions, ranging from shock, outrage and despair to relief and smirking jubilation. Mixed in with these was another common response: the suggestion that it really isn’t such a big deal. Tossing in a heavy dose of bothsidesism, many commenters argued that the decision was neither a major victory for “pro-life” forces, nor a major setback for pro-choice interests. Which, in a word, is bullshit.
There are always those — we’ll call them the Tranquilizers — who tell you to “calm down” whenever there is an atrocious development like this. A fair number of U.S. journalists assured the American public that Hitler wasn’t really as bad as he was painted, right up until the time that Hitler proved he was even worse than he was painted. The same people who are telling you now that the termination of Roe isn’t the end of the world are often the same ones who assured you that it would never be overturned. And that there was no way Former Guy would ever be elected. And that if he was defeated, he would concede gracefully, and there would be a peaceful transfer of power.
At the heart of Roe Vs. Wade was the right to privacy. In overruling the watershed ruling, the current “conservative” court essentially decreed that there is no right to privacy. The “conservative” justices issuing the majority opinion assured us that we should calm down, because there’s no way the same arguments would ever be applied to any other issue, wink wink. But out of the other corner of their mouth, they hinted that next on the chopping block might be same-sex marriage, contraception, and even interracial marriage. (Justice Thomas, like other “conservatives”, is a firm believer in the bedrock conservative principle of “I got mine, so up yours”.)
Even on the matter of women’s reproductive choices alone, this ruling is bound to open the floodgates to unprecedented intrusions into privacy to determine who is pregnant and who is a candidate for abortion, and who may even possibly consider an abortion, persecuting women on the basis of mere suspicion. Women will be arrested and jailed for having miscarriages. What’s that you say? “Calm down, how do you know such things will happen?” Because it’s already been happening. And the impetus will be even greater now. Even Susan Collins should be spilling her tea by now. The court has made it very clear that upending Roe is only the beginning.
Actually, it isn’t even that. The very day before this ruling, the “conservative” court had nixed certain state restrictions on firearms; a “conservative” court believes states have a right to impose needless death and suffering on pregnant teenagers in the name of protecting the “preborn”, but those same states do not have a right to protect the lives of post-born children. (In the same vein of consistency, it believes that states have a right to craft laws designed to prevent Democrats from voting, but do not have the right to count their votes according to their own rules if doing so will make a Democrat president.)
A few days earlier, the “conservative” court had decreed that church schools can benefit from taxes — even though churches still don’t have to pay any. A nice, fuzzy red carpet for further church abuses of tax law. And they ruled that school teachers can lead students in prayer. A cozy little precursor to “throw out those science books and open your Bibles”. Another recent SCOTUS ruling decreed that a man wrongfully convicted of murder can still be executed despite his innocence, because having new hearings to exonerate him would be too inconvenient. “Pro-life”, all the way down.
It’s also worth noting that the Dobbs vs Jackson case the SCOTUS used as a pretext for aborting Roe did not address a right to abortion in general. In other words, there was no reason for the court to pass a ruling on Roe except that it chose to do so. Right-wingers often wail about “activist” judges whenever a court takes a stance slightly to the left of Ronald Reagan, but this was about as activist as it gets. And they’re praising it to the skies.
So we have an arrogant, power-mad cadre of six justices who want to install an unlimited fascist theocracy, give the NRA free rein, control your reproductive life, and invade your privacy; and that has no value for human life beyond an obsession with the gestational stage. One of them was involved in shady shenanigans to put George W. Bush (whose dad appointed him) into the Oval Office; and is married to a woman who participated in the plot to overthrow the U.S. government to coronate as dictator the Former Guy who appointed three of the other justices. Why should anyone be concerned?
The Tranquilizers are right about one thing: this is not the time to panic. The time to panic was about 20 years ago.