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Supreme Court Judges play doctor

By       Message Lydia Howell     Permalink
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It was surreal hearing Supreme Court Justices trying their hand at
medical diagnosis during the oral arguments of Gonzalez v. Planned Parenthood. For one thing, Roberts, echoing other opponents to women's reproductive rights, habitually erase women from the debate.

Chief Justice John Roberts was oblivious to how he exemplified what
women and doctors have asserted since before abortion was decriminalized in Roe v. Wade; women and their doctors are far more qualified to make these complicated medical decisions than judges and politicians. Setting a dangerous precedent: for the first time, a Supreme Court decision addressing abortion has dropped consideration of a woman's health.

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At issue was a late-term abortion called Dilution and Extraction (D and X) an emergency procedure done less than 2,000 times a year. In spite of anti-choice propaganda, women do NOT have a D and X abortion as an “option”, but, rather as a tragic necessity, ending a pregnancy they had hoped result in motherhood. D and X is only done in circumstances where continuation of a pregnancy presents very serious health risks, a severely birth-defected child's birth would likely end a woman's
fertility or result in a woman's death.

Roberts and his four anti-choice colleagues are not trained in medicine, so, they relied propaganda. In 2003, Operation Rescue's Randall Terry said , “The partial birth ban is a political scam but, also a public relations goldmine.”

While an exception was made to save the woman's life, doctors performing the procedure risk two years in prison. Will more judges be playing doctor, pre-approving the procedure, so that doctors will feel secure from prosecution? Paul Clement, the Department of Justice attorney, arguing for the government alluded to “future challenges based on specific medical conditions”. With the Gonzalez decision, I wonder if doctors will often hesitate or refuse to this rare procedure resulting in more women losing their health, their fertility or their lives?

Young woman under 18 years old trying to exercise their own reproductive decisions and bypass parental notification laws have turned to judges with mixed results. Conservative judges claiming a young woman doesn't have the maturity to end a pregnancy think she's ready to take on parenthood.

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Or perhaps, what anti-choice judges, legislators and activists are
really saying is that ,for women 'biology is destiny'. In their view,
giving birth is women's primary purpose for existing. It's overdue for
feminists to fearlessly confront the true agenda of the anti-choice
movement. We've been shamed into silence and apologetic defensiveness for too long.

If anti-choice activists really believed “abortion is murder”, then,
they would be the LOUDEST voices calling for fact-based sex education for young people, easily available access to contraceptives and research for new birth control options that are both healthy and convenient. If these people's 'family values' were rooted in reality, they'd be the LOUDEST voices opposing the continued destruction of all economic supports for poor women and their children.

But, the same folks aiming to ban abortion got millions of dollars
shoveled into failed “abstinence only” sex ed and pushed cuts for
family planning clinics, welfare and childcare. These people have no problem with health insurance that pays for men to get Viagra and Rogain but, won't pay for women's contraceptives. Conservative federal appeals judges ruled in the Union Pacific case that this is NOT gender discrimination ! In fact, many of these people want to ban not only abortion but, contraceptives, too.

Anti-choice activists and judges understand that if women can not
control our reproductive lives, we can't control any other aspects of our lives. They understand that the only way to “put women back into their place”,(as wives and mothers ONLY), is roll the clock backwards, before the Pill. That's the ultimate goal. Abortion is simply the tip of their spear.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Eve Gartner, representing Planned Parenthood, attempted to make women real to their conservative male colleagues. But, when it comes to reproduction, for some, from the moment of conception, only the fetus exists. When anti-choice judges play doctor, women are simply 'empty vessels---a theological interpretation incompatible with American law, as well as medicine.

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http://blog.myspace.com/lydiahowell
Lydia Howell is a Minneapolis journalist, poet, activist and producer/host of "Catalyst:politics & culture" on KFAI Radio, all shows archived for 2 weeks after braodcast at www.kfai.org

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