Almost 40 years ago, when I made my decision to have an abortion, pre-Roe, I was alone. Society did not value my dignity or my choice. With the Alito nomination, we risk a return to that time.
Given that Judge Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearings are still two months off, it is difficult to know what we might reasonably expect. By that time, both sides will certainly have a much better grip on Alito’s judicial record and philosophy. What this increased knowledge of all things Alito will mean is hard to say, but one thing IS certain- millions of dollars will be spent on print and television ads by both sides. Depending on which side of the ideological fence you happy to live on, Alito is either the answer to your prayers or and Evil, Right Wing Tyrant Incarnate.
The question for now is whether the American public’s attention span can be engaged for two months, or whether come January we will have moved on to the next big issue/crisis. If January arrives to find the attention of Americans directed elsewhere, they could be missing one of the most important hearings of our time. Samuel Alito, if he is confirmed, could be on the Supreme Court for years to come, meaning that decisions he helps to formulate will be having an impact on American society and the legal landscape for generations to come. It doesn’t get much more important than that.
The room was cold and sterile: only a nondescript conference table, four suited men and me. In 1969, before Roe v. Wade, it was that room or the back alley — women had no other choices.
I was a mother of three, abandoned by her husband and pregnant. I had made the difficult decision to have an abortion. And this all-male hospital review board sat as my judge and jury and would determine whether I would be permitted to have a so-called “therapeutic” abortion. Their interrogation was demeaning and humiliating, probing the most intimate details of my personal and family life. Only later would I learn that the greatest indignity of all was yet to come — the state forced me to obtain permission from the man who had deserted me and my three daughters.
Decades later, President George W. Bush’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Samuel Alito, made it clear he had no sympathy for women in my predicament. In 1991, in Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey, Judge Alito wrote that state legislatures, not women, should have the right to decide what’s in the best interest of women. In his dissent, he upheld a spousal notification requirement mandating married women to notify their husbands before having an abortion. And in so doing, he revealed the disturbing gap between his understanding of the law and its impact on real people’s lives. Alito’s position in Casey highlights his weakness as a jurist and one vitally important reason he should not be confirmed to the land’s highest court.
President Bush’s nomination of Judge Samuel Alito was a complete capitulation to the extreme right of his party and a bold attempt to solidify an arch-conservative Supreme Court majority prepared to revoke fundamental freedoms and reverse decades of social progress, including, first and foremost, Roe v. Wade.
For two generations of post-Roe women, illegal back-alley abortions have been a relic from an unenlightened past. These women have been able to control their reproductive life. For them, reproductive choice has been a fundamental, constitutional right and protection from government intrusion into their private health decisions assumed. But all that is now in danger; all that could change with the confirmation of Judge Alito.
Are we really prepared to force women back to the pre-Roe v. Wade era? No, no one can know for certain if that is in fact what will happen if Samuel Alito is confirmed. There is too much propaganda yet to be slung from the Right, and too much caterwauling from both sides of the fence to be engaged in. Nonetheless, are Americans ready to face a world in which hard-fought rights may well be rolled back by a Supreme Court stacked so that it leans far to the Right? Are we ready to see stare decisis ignored when it’s no longer convenient? Are we prepared for the Supreme Court “legislating from the bench”? (Oops…I almost forgot. It’s not “legislating from the bench when it comes from the Right. It’s “reasoned, balanced jurisprudence”. Whatever….)
If Evangelical Conservatives are happy about Alito, we should rightly be alarmed…and trust me, Evangelical Conservatives are ECSTATIC. Suddenly, they can see the very real possibility of a world molded to their vision, a world safe for wealthy White folks who reliably vote Republican and go to church on Sundays. Does it get any better?
Don’t say you weren’t warned. WE DESERVE BETTER.