Today America Declared its Women Chattel
Posted on June 25, 2022
With the following words, the United States of America today decided that women had no right to full control over their bodies and well-being:
Held: The (US) Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.
It did not place any limitations on men.
In the most simplistic, paradigm-shifting common law (or judge-made law) decision the world has witnessed in some time, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the U.S. Constitution’s 9th Amendment, guaranteeing that rights not enumerated by it still existed, did not include an “American right” to terminate a pregnancy.
It added that the 14th Amendment guaranteeing a right of “liberty” did not provide a liberty to abort, nor did the interplay of the 9th, 14th and other amendments, offering a right of “privacy”, provide a woman an ability to keep her reproductive health private.
The court went so far as to declare that everyday practice also held no sway here, claiming that in the 21st Century:
The right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition.
In so doing, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade that made abortion federally legal in the USA and of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey that affirmed Roe in 1992.
It now falls to each state to decide whether a right to abortion exists in its jurisdiction, and at present of America’s 50 states: 9 prohibit it altogether, another 12 will likely do so or limit it in some way soon, and a further 9 are waiting on the political dust to settle before joining in.
After re-reading my copy of Chemerinsky’s Constitutional Law and looking at a few treaties like the European Convention on Human Rights, I was stunned that there are no international covenants bestowing a right on a woman for abortion. In fact, many prohibit it.
It means that President Biden will have to lean on the legislative powers of Congress to enshrine abortion protections if anything close to a uniform US abortion law is to exist, much as the United Kingdom did in 1967.
But his task will be hamstrung by a need to test America’s constitutional 1st Amendment bestowing “freedom of expression”, while re-arguing the breadth of the 9th Amendment and its statement of “unenumerated rights”.
Extrapolating this across the Pacific Ocean all the way to Australia, it is apparent that having only recently severed its ties to Trumpism in the defeat of its conservative government headed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison weeks ago, abortion protections already exist on a state-based scale but not in the form of a unified national code either. Australia only finalised its process of decriminalising abortion in 2021, when South Australia gave assent to its 23-week limited abortion statute.
While federally, Australia’s Medicare partially funds abortion, nothing can stop any Australian state from going rogue. That is, other than public opinion, which in Australia remains strongly pro-abortion, pro gender rights.
Australia’s right-wing neo-liberal movement (ironically in the form of the Liberal Party aka the Republican Party in the USA) is on a steep decline. Yet, Australia does not have the complications of a Bill of Rights interfering with its judicial process, meaning its societal norms are almost totally unenumerated and set in stone.
As of writing, corporate America has stepped into the void. Disney, JP Morgan Chase and Meta are US companies that have declared today they will reimburse any employee needing to travel interstate in the USA to access abortion services.
One would think this includes both physical abortion and abortion by medication—including possible aftercare. Aftercare along with professionalism throughout are what used to differentiate the present from the illegal “back yard abortion clinics” that will now proliferate across those states who’ve sought to send women into desperation.
Which does not dispel the utter anger and fear that reproductive women and their loved ones must be feeling right now, as it dawns on them that they no longer have full and free decision-making ability over their lives and bodies.
Undoubtedly, some in politics will be raking in hefty rewards from vested lobbies for their part in bringing about this contrived yet, historical day for the anti-abortion movement. That is despicable.
But today in America, women became a different class of citizen to men.
And that is unacceptable.
© 2022 Adam Parker.
Picture credit: The US Supreme Court. © 2022 Adam Parker.