Smart people saying smart things (6.13.22)

Smart people saying smart things (6.13.22) June 13, 2022

Audrey Clare Farley, “The Racist Roots of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Sex Scandal ‘Apocalypse'”

The fact that the SBC pushed its crusade against “critical race theory,” while sitting on knowledge of its own rampant sexual abuse is further suggestive that racial terror is still very much at work within the organization. It’s particularly noteworthy that the SBC began going after CRT well before CRT became the bogeyman du jour, as noted by Robert Downen, part of The Houston Chronicle team whose 2019 report helped to force sexual abuse within the SBC into the spotlight. Within lynching culture, white men can project all of their sins onto the dark-skinned other. One could make the case that the recent scapegoating of LGBTQ+ individuals and public school teachers as groomers and pedophiles is an extension, rather than aberration, of this project, given the threat that both are understood to pose to the virility and interests of white supremacy.

Adam Serwer, “Alito’s Plan to Repeal the 20th Century” (The Atlantic)

Aside from rights specifically mentioned in the text of the Constitution, Alito argues, only those rights “deeply rooted in the nation’s history in tradition” deserve its protections. This is as arbitrary as it is lawless. Alito is saying there is no freedom from state coercion that conservatives cannot strip away if conservatives find that freedom personally distasteful. The rights of heterosexual married couples to obtain contraception, or of LGBTQ people to be free from discrimination, are obvious targets. But other rights that Americans now take for granted could easily be excluded by this capricious reasoning.

“In a series of cases beginning in the early 1920s, the Court carved out a protected space for family, marriage, and children that the government is constrained from regulating,” Kimberly Wehle wrote last December. “A rollback of Roe could split this sphere open if the conservative theory that implied rights are constitutionally invalid takes hold, and states begin passing draconian laws that creep into other areas of intimate personal life.”

Kathryn Rubino, “The Supreme Court Has Only Scratched the Surface of Awful”

In the draft decision Alito criticizes both Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges as similar to Roe and Casey as the rights protected in those cases are not “deeply rooted in history.” So, coming soon to a red state near you, expect laws that outlaw sodomy and gay marriage as the Court has signaled they’re willing to upend stare decisis on these issues.

Speaking of the right to marry whomever you choose, interracial marriage could also become a thing of the past. The attorney behind Texas’s “heartbeat bill” abortion ban, Jonathan Mitchell, has already made rumblings about Loving v. Virginia. While he later appeared to backtrack he did write, “To be sure, the rationale of Loving purported to invoke the doctrine of substantive due process and a supposed constitutional ‘freedom to marry,’ which is nowhere to be found in the language of the Constitution.” Which is far from a good omen.

Rachel Barenblatt, “The Christian right’s abortion policy isn’t in my Torah”

Denying bodily autonomy, as SCOTUS seems poised to do, is profoundly anti-Jewish. My religious tradition not only permits the termination of pregnancy, but even requires it when the life of the pregnant person is at stake.

My religious tradition does not consider the fetus as a life until it draws first breath. Until then, the needs of the pregnant person are paramount. If abortion becomes illegal, that will criminalize health care that Judaism not only permits but sometimes requires. This decision violates the religious freedom of Jews (and others) nationwide.

Pema Levy, “Please Allow Me, a Woman Who Just Had a Baby, to Fact-Check Justice Samuel J. Alito”

Pregnancy and childbirth, however, can have lasting health consequences and even cause death. At a time when global maternal mortality rates are decreasing, the United States’ rate is rising, with black people nearly three times more likely to die than their white counterparts. Evidence shows that forced birth also impacts the health of the mother; according to the Turnaway Study from the University of California, San Francisco:

  • Women who were denied an abortion and gave birth reported more life-threatening complications like eclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage compared to those who received wanted abortions.
  • Women who were denied an abortion and gave birth instead reported more chronic headaches or migraines, joint pain, and gestational hypertension compared to those who had an abortion.
  • The higher risks of childbirth were tragically demonstrated by two women who were denied an abortion and died following delivery. No women died from an abortion.

Of course, none of these facts are in Alito’s opinion.

Julie F. Lay, “Why So-Called Personhood Laws Are the Next Big Threat After ‘Roe’ Falls”

Laws that give embryos “personhood” imperil miscarriage management with lethal results. Savita Halappanavar’s death made headlines after physicians delayed providing her with appropriate medical treatment during a septic miscarriage because they could still detect a fetal heartbeat. By the time they acted, it was too late and Halappanavar died of sepsis, bringing the tipping point to a growing cry to abolish Ireland’s anti-abortion law. Polish activists have loudly protested the similar deaths of two pregnant women, one with twins, who were denied appropriate medical treatment because of Poland’s strict abortion ban. The definition of abortion in one Oklahoma bill, which became law on Tuesday, likewise could prohibit the removal of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage treatment.

By criminalizing abortion through fetal “personhood” laws, we turn anyone who miscarries into a criminal suspect, condemning them to our racist criminal justice system.


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