티his was predictable. 사실로, it was predicted. The end of Roe v Wade and nationwide protections for abortion rights became 아마도 에 2016, the night that Donald Trump was elected. It became inevitable 에 2018, when Anthony Kennedy, the fifth pro-choice vote, retired and handed his seat to Trump to fill. But the end of nationwide legal abortion in America has been coming for decades, and there has been no ambiguity about the appetite for Roe’s overturn on the American right. And crucially, feminists have been sounding the alarm for decades, warning in increasingly desperate terms that gradual erosions of Roe’s protections in the law had led to a rapid and widespread loss of abortion access on the ground.
Perhaps the form of Roe’s eventual downfall was a surprise. Few thought that Roe’s fatal case would be over Texas’s new abortion law, with its privatized enforcement system of bounty-hunting civil suits designed to elide judicial review. And among a sea of legal observers, only Cardozo law professor Kate Shaw seems to have predicted that the court would dispose of a long-established constitutional right in so rushed and perfunctory a proceeding as a late-night order on the shadow docket. But this outcome was never in doubt. Trump promised to appoint antichoice judges. He kept that promise. This week his three appointees – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, joined by Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas – did what all of them know they were put on the court to do. They allowed the first state to outlaw abortion within its borders.
So why has the effective end of Roe v Wade, coming in a one paragraph order in the wee hours of Thursday morning, been met with shock by so many corners of political life? The Republican party’s control of the federal judiciary had left little doubt that those judges most inclined to strip women of their rights would have both the power and the opportunity to do so. And yet politicians, pundits, and legal observers had for years assured the public that the justices would not gut abortion rights, despite the clear evidence that they would. We were assured that the Republicans on the court were less determined to gut Roe than they appeared to be, and that those worried about the future of abortion rights were overreacting.
The court would not gut Roe, we were told by politicians and academics, because they said they wouldn’t. Kavanaugh, the ruddy-faced Trump appointee, had referred to Roe as “important precedent”. That this rather tepid comment was a disingenuous bit of posturing meant to ease his confirmation to the court was evident to everyone. 그럼에도 불구하고, defenders of the confirmation process implored the public to treat it as if it had been uttered in good faith.
In a speech announcing her decision to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, Senator Susan Collins said that she believed Kavanaugh would not vote to overturn Roe, or to gut it procedurally, because “his views on honoring precedent would preclude attempts to do by stealth that which one has committed not to do overtly.” Of course, the court, with Kavanaugh’s help, did effectively overturn Roe “by stealth” – in an unsigned order in the middle of the night.
Of the feminists who opposed his nomination, Collins was dismissive, even patronizing. “We have seen special-interest groups whip their followers into a frenzy by spreading misrepresentations and outright falsehoods about Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record.” She condemned these women’s concerns as “over-the-top rhetoric and distortions”.
The court would not gut Roe, we were told by the legal world, because the justices were too professional. Barrett, the third of Trump’s appointees, had been a member of an antichoice faculty group while a law professor at Notre Dame. She had given a lecture to a Right to Life group; she had signed a letter condemning Roe and its “brutal legacy”. And yet despite Barrett’s extremist and evidently very passionately held views on abortion, people posing as serious told us that we could not know how she would vote on abortion rights, that the opinions and worldviews of judges would somehow not affect their legal judgement. “My personal views don’t have anything to do with the way I would decide cases,” Barrett told Senator Patrick Leahy when she was asked about her lengthy history of anti-abortion advocacy. The statement insulted both Leahy’s intelligence, and ours.
And yet as conservative, antichoice judges consolidated their power, several myths about the court persisted. We were told that the people who looked like rabidly conservative justices were really reasoned moderates; or that at least they would be professional and impartial in their judgements; or that at least the removal of abortion rights would move slowly. These myths were presented as the only serious way to understand the court. Feminist claims that what appeared to be happening really 였다 happening – that the judiciary really had been taken over by antichoice zealots, that the ability of women to control their own bodies and lives would soon be stripped away – were labeled as delusional and silly. Faith in the integrity of the conservative justices was cast as informed, mature, and intelligent. And it was contrasted with the supposed hysteria of feminists, whose passion and fear was taken as a sign of their own delusion, not as an indication of the seriousness of the problem.
This notion, that the only intelligent response to a threat to women’s rights is to be calm, blasé, and preemptively assured that nothing very bad or important will result, has been weaponized with particular insidiousness over the course of the abortion debate during the past five years. In the halls of power, contempt for abortion rights activists was nearly complete.
After Kennedy’s resignation, the CNN host Brian Stelter took to social media to scold a liberal activist for her fear of a Roe reversal. “We are not ‘a few steps away from the Handmaid’s Tale’,” he wrote. “I don’t think this kind of fear-mongering helps anybody.” Confronted with women opposed to the confirmation of Kavanaugh, Senator Ben Sasse all but rolled his eyes. There had been, 그는 말했다, “screaming protesters saying ‘women are going to die’ at every hearing for decades.”
The insistence that Roe is not in danger, and that women’s fear is silly, persists even now, after the court has effectively ended Roe. “Now breathe,” wrote the law professor Jonathan Turley in a blogpost urging women’s rights advocates to calm down, as if they were toddlers in the midst of a temper tantrum. “It is ridiculous to say that it was some manufactured excuse for a partisan ruling.”
Is it ridiculous? The public has no real reason to believe that the supreme court is acting in good faith – aside from the repeated assurances of supposed experts whose predictions have usually been wrong. 대신, it was the so-called alarmist feminists, the ones warning about manufactured excuses for partisan attacks on abortion rights, who got their predictions mostly right. Maybe these women are not so ridiculous after all. Maybe it’s time to start listening to them.