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The alienable kind


Alexandra Petri has a couple of great columns on the coming obliteration of reproductive freedom in America. First, a barely-even-satire on the oral argument:

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN: What about stare decisis?

STEWART: What about it?

JUSTICE BRETT M. KAVANAUGH: Whoa whoa whoa, let me get one thing straight. Are you saying that the court can outlaw abortion?

STEWART: Nope, all we are saying is that states should be able to outlaw abortion.

KAVANAUGH: Well, that’s, like, totally different, right? That’s, like, not even a rights issue at all. I bet we can leave for lunch early!

JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT: Is it really infringing on the autonomy of women if we only force them to carry a fetus to term for nine months, during which time many of them probably will not suffer life-altering medical complications or die? They can drop the baby off afterwards, assuming that they have not suffered medical complications or died, which, again, most of them probably won’t do.

STEWART: Yeah, that sounds right to me! Childbirth is very little to ask of a person, although fortunately we are not asking it of people, just of wombs floating in a void.

And then, the same moral fury, straight up:

It was hard to believe the time was running out. Maybe it would not, after all. It had been so long — nearly 49 years, with a few scares along the way — that the illusion had held, that she was a citizen, a person with rights to be respected in her own right. That not merely her life was worthy of protection, but also her ability to make choices for her own future. That she was just as good as any state legislator, and possessed certain rights they could not abridge!

Those 49 years had flown by. But when the court’s clock struck, her run would in all likelihood begin to end. She would stop being a person with autonomy over her own body that the law was bound to respect. She would go back to being a vessel that might potentially contain a person, a vessel whose rights ended once that possibility was considered.

It had been so nice, thinking that she could go anywhere in the United States and the laws would have to acknowledge her right to decide whether she wanted to be pregnant, that any doctor who treated her could give her correct information about what risks she faced, that if her life were threatened, her life would carry weight.

But no. Her rights were all the alienable kind, it turned out, and she was nothing more than a sort of empty clay jar into which, if she were sufficiently blessed, a person might one day be deposited. Her mistake!

She pondered what to do while the Supreme Court heard arguments about Mississippi’s abortion law and deliberated upon them and formed an opinion. There were so many person things she had liked getting to do. She was glad she had gotten some voting in, earlier in the month. Maybe she should sue someone in court, or hold a job outside the home, or try to express an opinion in print somewhere. Maybe she could go feed some birds. Maybe she could pursue a little happiness. She could get a latte!

There were so many choices that were wonderful if you made them for yourself and nightmarish if others forced them upon you.

This misogynist barbarism is one of the most central goals of the conservate movement in America (not a sideshow, as too many liberals claimed, helping contribute to the complacency that made 2014 and 2016 happen.) They’ve never come close to persuading a majority of Americans that their position is correct, but it doesn’t matter.

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