THE OTHER SIDE OF ROE

One of the more interesting points William Saletan makes in Bearing Right is that as long as a sizeable number of Americans believes neither that a woman has a right to choose nor that a fetus has a right to life, we’ll continue to see employers, judges, parole officers, and others pushing policies which should trouble those who believe in either – policies which deny pregnant women who want to carry a fetus to term, or women who want to retain the ability to get pregnant in the future, the chance to do so. The case studies Saletan explores show that when the issue is mandatory abortion, pro-choicers and “pro-life” activists have generally been united in defending a woman’s right to choose birth, though in cases where the issue is mandatory sterilization, “pro-life” organizations have too often stood with those who would take away a woman’s or man’s reproductive autonomy, whether permanently or for the duration of coercively-implemented injections.

The ultimate line of legal defense for women told that sacrificing the chance to have a child is the cost of a job or a parole is that much-maligned but nationally popular decision, Roe v. Wade. One of these women is April Thompson, who is suing Piedmont Management Associates for firing her over her decision to remain pregnant:

According to the lawsuit, when Ebert found out Thompson was seeing a fertility doctor, she told her she was “worried that she was trying to get pregnant.” “If you get pregnant, you will have to move because I am not putting up with any babies around here and you also won’t have a job,” the lawsuit says Ebert told Thompson. “The guys and I do not even hire single mothers because of the problems. I know you have some great delusion that you will be a great mother, but you won’t — you can’t even take care of your dog.”…According to the lawsuit, when Ebert found out, she demanded that Thompson get an abortion.

April Thompson is a poster child for the centrality of privacy and workers’ rights to the pursuit of happiness this country promises. And her case represents the danger of a jurisprudence which would elevate an ostensible “free contract” right to sign away your personal freedom over individual rights, and the judgment of the state over the bodily integriy and autonomy of the individual. It reminds us why, if John Roberts still sees Roe as “unprincipled jurisprudence” and scoffs at a “so-called right to privacy,” and plans to remain the “go-to lawyer for the business community, then America deserves better than John Roberts on the Supreme Court.

FROM YOUR MOUTH TO GOP EARS

Just watched Tucker Carlson on his new show complaining about the disparity between full-throated defenses of Roe from Democrats and opaque evasions from Republicans. He claimed to be at a loss as to why, with a nomination battle brewing, the Senators on his side are so hesitant to explicitly defend their desire to see Roe go. Hard to blame Tucker for wanting GOP Senators to talk more about how they really feel about the right to choose. There’s an obvious answer for Republicans’ behavior on this though: They know that most people disagree with them.

Amid all the judicial tyranny chatter, it’s easy to forget that between half and two thirds of Americans consistently tell pollsters that they want Roe upheld (the number is higher among moderates). A good number of them, unfortunately, are comfortable with restrictions on the right to choose which make it difficult for poor women or young women to exercise. (William Saletan documents this dynamic in Bearing Right, and makes a persuasive argument that the anti-government, family-centered rhetoric the pro-choice movement has used effectively to build support for Roe has backfired when it comes to laws which narrow whom it meaningfully applies to). That’s why the way Bush called for Roe to be overturned during the debates was with a coded reference to pretty universally unpopular Dred Scott.