“. . . Not As I Do.”
The horrors and hypocrisies of the anti-choice movement know no bounds
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is easily one of the worst, most short-sighted decisions since the September 24, 1789 passage of the Judiciary Act. In the 85,009 days between its founding and this disastrous decision, the Court has made several ghastly decisions, most of which have been rescinded or overruled by subsequent Congressional law.
One of the major problems with the entire hearings in Dobbs which lead to the final ruling is the lack of professional medical guidance. In the original Roe v. Wade decision, doctors and their professional decisions were partially considered and indeed respected1. Yet the wording in Dobbs, mostly written by Alito, includes derogatory verbiage for doctors, including calling ones who perform the procedure “abortionists”. Ignoring the multiple threats to licensed and regulated medical professionals being able to do their jobs to service their female clients is of grave concern; not only for our nation’s healthcare industry, but risks putting – as Texas’ AG wants – doctors who give any form of abortive care, including medications (so women can end a pregnancy in the comfort and presumed privacy of their home) in prison for life.
Perhaps the greatest threat to our society, and a veridical affront to the actual sanctity of life, the time between the Dobbs decision and Congress codifying protections into law, (which, unfortunately, is not likely to happen soon2), will come down to every woman of child-bearing ability. Now, any pregnancy will once again – in what is supposed to be the freest country on the planet – create a potential adversarial relationship between the fertilized egg, the zygote, and the woman carrying it. Stillbirths, ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, developmental and gestational difficulties, placental complications, infections, birth defects, growth retardation, placental abruption, placenta previa, preeclampsia, eclampsia and violence against women. Each present an opportunity for Fuckublican prosecutors to peer into a woman’s medical care to look for signs of abortion. The University of Baltimore Law Review3 has a detailed and terrifying look into ways actions we would normally consider part of living in a free society are used in criminal investigations. Called “Surveilling the Digital Abortion Diary”, it is by Cynthia Conti-Cook, a noted civil rights litigator and public defender now working with the Ford Foundation, and is available here.
Summarizing some of the findings, NBC News notes:
Searching on the internet for how to have an abortion isn’t illegal. But states have used search histories as evidence of intent in cases against people who were accused of illegally administering their own abortion.
“A prosecutor is always going to need some evidence of intent,” Conti-Cook said. “As long as we don’t have strong protections for digital self-incrimination, our digital devices will do the work of telling prosecutors what was in our minds at the moment we were accused of conduct related to the termination of a pregnancy.”
That means just about any form of digital communication could become evidence, though not all digital communication is easily acquired by law enforcement either through official requests or subpoenas. Law enforcement can get access to unencrypted information, but they can only view end-to-end encrypted messages such as those sent by apps like Signal by directly accessing a user’s device4.
Since 2006 alone, over 1,300 women have been “investigated, detained, arrested, for pregnancy outcomes” and many have been criminally charged, including for taking pills to prevent the zygote from attaching to the uterus, where text messages were seized and used in court, and even in the case of a late-pregnancy stillbirth (which occurs in about 1 in 160 births according to the CDC5 ) where the prosecution used a defendant’s Web search history6.
One of the more disturbing cases in recent times comes in the name of Marshae Jones, a pregnant woman from Alabama. An altercation between Jones and her acquaintance Ebony Jemison, led to Jemison, while sitting in her car, to discharge a handgun into Ms Jones’ midsection. The 5 month old baby she was carrying became non-viable and several months later Jones was arrested for intentionally causing the death of an unborn baby. Ms Jemison was never charged7.
In addition, in a stunning display of hypocrisy, there are women who actually go from “…protest to clinic,” anti-abortion protesters who genuinely use clinic services to terminate their own pregnancy. One such patient told Atlanta physician Dr. Marissa Lapedis that she had been anti-abortion her whole life, however after receiving the procedure commented ‘I’m so grateful that I’m able to make this choice for myself’, only to be back out on the picket lines the next day attempting to take that “choice” away from others8.
“You sometimes have anti people who are like, ‘Promise me no one’s going to find out, my boss cannot know,’ [because] they work in the Republican legislature or something. Which has happened—but this patient was so appreciative.” … “All of us who do abortions see patients quite regularly who tell us, ‘I’m not pro-choice, but I just can’t continue this pregnancy,’” said Dr. Sarah Prager, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington. “We’ve even seen people coming into the clinic off the protester lines to get their abortion, then return to protesting outside the clinic.” And to be clear, she added, “These are not people who turn anti-choice after having an abortion, but who simply access this essential service when they need it in spite of their personal beliefs about abortion in general.”9
This disconnect in reality, this entitle sense of exceptionalism, is so commonly seen by advocates and providers that it’s often called “the ‘ME’ exception”. This ‘ME’ exception has another social cost: to create a new separation of privilege. Women in states which will outlaw abortions who can afford to travel to other states for the procedure will do so, while the economically disadvantaged will not.
Dr. Meera Shah wrote a book about the glaring contradictions of the anti-choice movement and the legislative impact on real women. In You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion, she interviewed 17 women who have had the abortion, and the private stories of their lives, and even how the anti-choice movement made their decisions and their repercussions worse. Dr. Shah also discussed the anti-choice women who make the choice to have abortions, discussing their plights with sympathy. She spoke of this to a reporter, commenting:
“Their lived experience has taught them that abortion is bad, so they just run with that. But what they fail to do is keep an open mind and express empathy for those who are going through it. And that’s what got us here.”9
Agree? Disagree? Have a different perspective? Leave a comment below.
header image c. 2022, by Pearsonally. Purchased from https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnthemStickerCompany
Basically, don’t be a fucking asshole, asshole.
- See Stone, Alan A. “Judges as Medical Decision Makers: Is the Cure Worse than the Disease?” Cleveland State Law Review, Volume 33, Issue 4, 1984; Appel, Jacob M. (April 24, 2009). “Do We Need a Pro-Choice Litmus Test for Obstetricians?”. Huffington Post. Retrieved July 7, 2022; in books, see Reagan, Leslie J., Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America, Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2010 ↵
- See Hurd, William H., Does Congress Have the Constitutional Authority to Codify Roe? Bloomberg Law, May 17, 2022 ↵
- 50;1.2 ↵
- https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/abortion-digital-information-privacy-rcna35543 ↵
- https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/stillbirth/facts.html#:~:text=Stillbirth%20affects%20about%201%20in,stillborn%20in%20the%20United%20States.&text=That%20is%20about%20the%20same,Infant%20Death%20Syndrome%20(SIDS). ↵
- https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/fears-personal-data-could-be-used-against-women-in-abortion-restrictive-states-143546437930 ↵
- Paterson, Blake. Alabama woman charged in fetal death, her shooter goes free. Associated Press, June 28, 2019; Pollitt, Katha. Marshae Jones Is Proof Pro-Lifers Don’t Care About Life, Under Alabama law, women are good for nothing except producing a child. ‘The Nation.’ June 28, 2019 ↵
- See the following very important resources: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-women-who-leave-anti-abortion-picket-lines-to-get-abortions ↵
- ibid. ↵
- ibid. ↵