Knee jerk reaction coming up, but I think it’s significant to start talking about this right away.
As I go over Alito’s record, there’s one case in particular that really doesn’t sit well with me this morning. I’m sure most of you could guess what that is, but it’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
A dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 947 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1991), arguing that a Pennsylvania that required women seeking abortions to inform their husbands should have been upheld. As Judge Alito reasoned, “[t]he Pennsylvania legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands’ knowledge because of perceived problems–such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands’ previously expressed opposition–that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion.” Chief Justice Rehnquist’s dissent from the Supreme Court’s 5-4 [corrected] decision striking down the spousal notification provision of the law quoted Judge Alito’s dissent and expressed support for Judge Alito’s reasoning.
Why is this troubling? Well, imagine that you’re a woman in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship and you’ve just found out you’re pregnant. You don’t want to carry the pregnancy to term because you don’t want to bring a child into this situation. Alito’s dissent seemingly ignores these types of situations. And what troubles me most, is that it appears he fails to understand that these laws are specifically made for the exceptions. These laws protect the weak and the wounded.
People, abortion rights aren’t about women just willy-nilly wanting to go have an abortion. Some would have you think as much, but that’s not the case. These are serious decisions with emotional reprecussions, and the women who get the procedure are fully aware of that. However, you can’t truly have equal rights unless you give a woman control over her own reproductive health. And you certainly can’t force a married woman in an abusive relationship to carry a preganancy to term just because her husband won’t sign off on the paperwork.
In short, to legally subjugate a women’s reproductive health to her husband, regardless of the health of the relationship, feels very wrong to me.
What do you think?
As Eric over at MyopicZeal points out, I overlooked the following exceptions to spousal notice:
(b) Exceptions. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬? The statement certifying that the notice required by subsection (a) has been given need not be furnished where the woman provides the physician a signed statement certifying at least one of the following:
(1) Her spouse is not the father of the child.
(2) Her spouse, after diligent effort, could not be located. [p909]
(3) The pregnancy is a result of spousal sexual assault as described in section 3128 (relating to spousal sexual assault), which has been reported to a law enforcement agency having the requisite jurisdiction.
(4) The woman has reason to believe that the furnishing of notice to her spouse is likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury upon her by her spouse or by another individual.
Thanks for the catch Eric, but the original assertion that this subjugates a woman’s reproductive health to her husband still holds in my view. Why? If a woman has to tell her husband, then how is that not seeking consent? Notification equals consent in this situation for me, especially if you’re married.
However, my assertion “And you certainly can’t force a married woman in an abusive relationship to carry a preganancy to term just because her husband won’t sign off on the paperwork” is misleading and I’ll retract it. Yet, if all a woman honestly needs is to say “Yes, my husband has been notified,” then what exactly is the point of the law?
[…] no physician shall perform an abortion on a married woman, except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), unless he or she has received a signed statement, which need not be notarized, from the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed, that she has notified her spouse that she is about to undergo an abortion.
Read that way, this is essentially a law with a massive loophole. Why would they create it in the first place then? Well, we only need look at the first part of the above paragraph to see:
In order to further the CommonwealthÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s interest in promoting the integrity of the marital relationship and to protect a spouseÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s interests in having children within marriage and in protecting the prenatal life of that spouseÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s child,[…]
Sorry, but this appears to be a transparent and weak attempt to get in the way of a woman’s civil rights.
Lastly, do I think a woman should have to tell her husband she’s having an abortion? No. I say let individuals make this decision themselves, away from the gaze of the legislature and courts, especially legislatures that are trying to promote “the integrity of the martial relationship.”
We can do fine on our own.