Sunday, January 22, 2006

Abortion rights and the theology of the constitution

Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, it is not an auspicious anniversary.

Alito is headed for confirmation. Roberts has already shown where he stands. And they clearly will not let law or precedent stand in their way as they impose their ideology on the whole country.

Constitutional law professor Rosa Brooks argues "in the United States today, constitutional interpretation is best understood as a form of theology rather than law." This is in line with Judge Richard Posner's earlier assessment that most constitutional questions today
"can be decided only on the basis of a political judgment, and a political judgment cannot be called right or wrong by reference to legal norms. It is rarely possible to say with a straight face of a Supreme Court constitutional decision that it was decided correctly or incorrectly."
So the law will mean exactly what they want it to mean, no more no less. The question is who is to be master, that is all.

Whether abortion rights merely continue to be incrementally stripped away or whether Roe is overturned in one fell swoop, the battle is increasingly turning to the individual states. The LA Times reports on the increasing number of state level challenges to abortion. In addition to diminishing overall quality of life, the goal is to set up laws openly in conflict with Roe in hopes of provoking a showdown in the newly reconfigured supreme court.
Taking direct aim at Roe vs. Wade, lawmakers from several states are proposing broad restrictions on abortion, with the goal of forcing the U.S. Supreme Court--once it has a second new justice--to revisit the landmark ruling issued 33 years ago today least a dozen states have criminal laws banning abortion. They can't be enforced as long as Roe vs. Wade remains binding. In theory, though, they could take effect immediately upon a reversal, subjecting abortion providers to penalties ranging from 12 months' hard labor in Alabama to 20 years' imprisonment in Rhode Island.

"What the public doesn't realize is that the building blocks are already in place to re-criminalize abortion if Roe is overturned," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York.
NARAL has a good state by state guide to the assault on reproductive choice.

While many are skeptical that the right would dare overturn Roe at a national level, I am not so sure. The fanatics clearly smell blood, and will not be stopped by arguments or reason. Are enough people still willing to fight for their rights?


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