First I better explain my title realizing that means I probably chose the wrong one. When I was seven our family began taking summer vacations in Balboa. As my father drove, to pass the time my mother sang with us kids “Row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily for life is but a dream.” (In retrospect it was better than “99 bottles of beer” my sister and I would eventually adopt or spotting out of state license plates.)
Forgive this giant segue but after listening to recent Supreme Court oral arguments of the Mississippi abortion case, court scholars are predicting Roe v. Wade will be overturned. This despite it’s been the law of the land for almost fifty years.
Two things come to my mind. One, during oral arguments why do we only hear the justices and not see them? Are they camera shy? And two, though there’s been great progress, women have continually gotten the Constitutional short straw.
For example, the Declaration of Independence proclaims “all men are created equal” but says nothing about women. And slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person. To get the right to vote took women 132 years. Which reminds me of Victoria Woodhull, a prominent publisher and women’s right activist, who, in 1872, was the first woman to run for president even though she couldn’t vote.
Her running mate was former slave Frederick Douglass. Speaking of Freddy, who can forget that Donald Trump, on the first day of Black History Month on February 1, 2017, clearly thought Douglass was still alive. “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and I notice is being recognized more and more.” ( Woodhull’s choice of Douglass actually caused a firestorm because many women were understandably envious that the slaves had the right to vote but they didn’t.)
I know many readers, and Daily Press management for that matter, are tired of my writing about Trump, but Roe wouldn’t be this close to becoming toast without him. On the campaign trail in March, 2016, Trump said if abortions were banned women getting them “Would have to be punished.” It may even be worse than that.
In Texas this past May, Governor Abbott signed a measure that would prohibit abortions as early as six weeks — before some women know they are pregnant. In addition it could essentially deputize private citizens as bounty hunters tracking women attempting to get abortions in states where it was legal and earn $10,000.
The Texas law sounds like something from a bad western and raises the question how did we go from “Life is but a dream” to, at least for 60% of the country favoring the right to choose, a nightmare? (It’s ironic that Anti Vaxers claim “my body, my choice” but many are against a woman’s reproductive rights. Go figure.)
Roe v. Wade began to be in most jeopardy when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, essentially giving Obama 11 months to fill his vacancy. But Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, invoked an unofficial rule that no justice would be voted on during an election year so that it would be left to the voters.
Meanwhile Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18, 2020, or a mere six weeks before the November election. Giving new meaning to hypocrisy, McConnell completely forgot his “no appointments in an election year” which blocked Obama. So it was Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed Ginsburg’s replacement and likely a death blow to Roe. (But, on the bright side, a possible bonanza for abortion bounty hunters.)
The thought of Donald Trump being “pro-life” is hilarious. He has openly bragged about cheating on all three of his wives. So to think that if one of his paramours, to be kind, got pregnant he would gladly welcome the baby and pay child support is beyond ludicrous. In fact, one can only imagine how many abortions Trump has paid for in his life.
Maybe I’m too pessimistic but if Roe is overturned women’s reproductive rights will be like education, health care, life expectancy and housing, a case of haves and have nots. Though it might cost more, the rich will always have access to abortions from top doctors whereas the working class might sadly return to back alleys.
If history’s any judge, it’s likely we won’t know the court’s ruling until June right before they take their summer break. That way if the decision is highly unpopular, with 60% favoring Roe, the jurists will have skipped town.
I still have fond memories of Balboa vacations and singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Hoping I’m wrong, I doubt I’ll be able to say the same for these past five years and what madness may lie ahead.