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The Kavanaugh’s Tale


This column from Michelle Goldberg is brilliant. First, she does a good job of explaining why the Jane Doe case illustrates that Kavanaugh will never vote to hold a regulation or proscription of abortion unconstitutional:

Garza v. Hargan was the only major abortion-rights case Kavanaugh ever ruled on. His handling of it offers a clue about what’s in store for American women if he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court. No one knows whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade outright or simply gut it. But even on a lower court, Kavanaugh put arbitrary obstacles in the way of someone desperate to end her pregnancy. Thanks to Trump, he may soon be in a position to do the same to millions of others.

It’s fitting that last week’s Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were regularly interrupted by the sound of women screaming. Again and again, protesters, most of them female, cried out for the preservation of their rights, and were arrested. Republican men were contemptuous. “What’s the hysteria coming from?” asked Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

Let me answer. It is true, as Sasse said, that protesters have claimed for many years that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, women will die. It’s a fair prediction; women died before Roe, and where abortion is illegal, unsafe abortion leads to maternal death. In the past, however, Roe has been saved. Should Kavanaugh be confirmed, it will either fall or be eviscerated.

In Garza, Kavanaugh and another judge vacated the temporary restraining order that prevented the government from hindering Doe’s abortion. Brigitte Amiri, an A.C.L.U. lawyer who represented the girl, was stunned, because it seemed clear that Doe, who’d already obtained the necessary judicial signoff, had the law on her side. “It wasn’t what I was expecting from any judge that would have read Roe v. Wade,” Amiri said of the ruling. “Conservatives, progressives, anyone.”

Indeed, a few days later, the full court reversed the panel’s decision. Kavanaugh, dissenting, wrote that “the government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life.”

By the time Jane Doe got her abortion, she was 15 weeks pregnant and needed a more complicated second-trimester procedure. On Friday, Rochelle Garza, a lawyer who served as Doe’s temporary legal guardian during the proceedings, testified at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.

“She was one of the most vulnerable people in our community,” Garza said of the girl, adding, “She was an immigrant, she didn’t speak English, she was in detention, and she was being put under extreme pressure. And I felt it was unfortunate that Judge Kavanaugh did not take that into consideration.”

We shouldn’t expect a Trump nominee, however personally decent his friends say he is, to care about women’s wishes. Kavanaugh’s defenders insist that he’s the sort of judge any Republican would appoint, and they are correct. Still, it’s a particularly bitter insult that women stand to lose reproductive autonomy thanks to the minority presidential victory of a louche misogynist.

The de facto nullification of Roe isn’t just for Kavanaugh, either — anticipating his confirmation, 8CA for all intents and purposes announced that it wouldn’t apply Whole Woman’s Health. 

And now, Goldberg distills Republicans and abortion into two sentences:

Politicians sometimes say that they are personally opposed to abortion, but believe it should be legal. Trump and some of his enablers reverse that formulation.

And this has very real consequences, substantively and politically. The affluent and their mistresses will always have access to safe abortion. But criminalization will have devastating effects on poor and rural women.


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