Few things seem stupider to me than basing my vote on a candidate’s position on abortion. But that’s what it just came down to.
Yes, I know, people with weak brains and poor educations have been doing this for decades, deciding that an innocuous medical procedure — which nobody seeks unless absolutely necessary — is a more important issue than a dying planet, a sabotaged government, and a conspiracy to make things far worse for everyone than they already are.
But even as a depressingly lengthy list of overwhelming problems continues to descend upon us from a dozen directions at once, we are now forced to deal with new catastrophes soon to be unleashed by what should have been a non-problem.
If abortion was ever a problem, it was one that was solved long ago, and to most of the world’s satisfaction. The case for abortion is unimpeachable from a medical, legal, and societal viewpoint, while abortion itself has become a crucial tool in responsible family planning. There is no rational reason whatsoever to make it a problem again. Nobody wants an abortion, and people who don’t like the idea are not required to get one.
Yet astonishingly, that non-problem — with its vast and pernicious ramifications — is now the biggest problem we face. It will now be impossible to vote in any election without that one issue, that one non-problem, dominating our choice.
Abortion has always been a fabricated issue, cynically concocted by the far right to whip up whatever brainwashed constituency needed whipping up at the time. That the issue has resurfaced at all is a consequence of both a long-planned, patiently executed takeover of the judiciary, and a vicious outbreak of judicial vandalism.
Six justices — six Putin wannabes — have audaciously anointed themselves the final arbiters of life and death. In their sheer naked arrogance, they have taken for themselves what amounts to absolute rule.
This particular SCOTUS — call it the Revenge of Donald Trump — has, for no apparent reason, blown a gaping hole in the social fabric of the country. And they’re just getting started. Overturning Roe isn’t even the most egregious thing they’ve done in the last week — though it’s certainly up there with allowing anyone to carry a gun anywhere. Can we assume that the unborn now have second amendment rights?
Untold pieces of our lives — legal, economic, social, political — will now be plagued by uncertainty, conflict, and the threat of zombies with guns. All thanks to the chaos this ruling deliberately, and with malice aforethought, has loosed upon us.
The justices have launched a new kind of civil war — not necessarily a hot war, though that can’t be ruled out. It will start out as a war between lawyers, its battles fought mostly in the courts.
But just imagine the sheer scope and scale of the lawsuits that will be filed just in the coming weeks. We’ll be watching a free-for-all of civil litigation, and none of it ever needed to happen.
We’ll see state against state, state against federal, organizations against governments, individuals against all of the above.
We’ll see plaintiffs appear everywhere: from women’s groups, doctors’ groups, pharma companies, cyber companies, and from anywhere there’s a conflict between privacy law and medical law.
We’ll see healthcare suits of all kinds, discrimination suits, security matters, insurance matters, employment matters, union matters.
Plus, an orgy of technology disputes surrounding the online delivery of reproductive services — special focus on abortion pills.
And best of all, an epic multi-jurisdictional battle over what the U.S. Postal Service can and can’t transport between one state and another — special focus on abortion pills.
Much of this litigation will be for high stakes, some of it with lives literally on the line. It will be hugely expensive, and each state — red or blue — will be on the hook to defend its laws in court, at taxpayer expense.
As red states rush to trigger the laws they’ve had lying in wait, they will need to expand their legal staffs, perhaps drastically, and decide how much enforcement they’re prepared to pay for. Will they raise taxes in states where "tax" is a four-letter word? Have they thought this through at all?
And even as they stretch their legal budgets, they’ll be facing highly motivated adversaries. Hungry young lawyers will find huge opportunity on the pro-woman side of the table. And for special cases, rock-star legal talent will be available at little or no cost.
But wait. Everything we’ve just discussed is about civil law. The real action will be in criminal law.
Because even as the rats-nest of lawsuits hashes out the rules for this creepy new world, the real-world enforcement of these anti-woman laws — the arrest, prosecution, trial, and incarceration of real humans — will be playing out as well. And it will be bonkers.
As the so-called “trigger bans” take effect in red states, we’ll be watching what the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) calls the “criminalization of pregnancy.”
NACDL, in a lengthy study done last year, argued persuasively that the kinds of laws now being triggered — the so-called “personhood” laws — serve to codify extremely narrow definitions of life.
Under these laws, the unborn “person” will have rights that supercede its mother’s. But even crazier than that, this “person” — who might be a fetus, but who could presumably, under the same legal theories, be an embryo, an egg, or a single sperm — will now have rights that are enforceable under the entirety of the state’s criminal code.
In other words, it’s not just about the anti-abortion laws, it’s about possible charges of child abuse, reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, even homicide. All of these carry serious prison terms, and the death penalty is not off the table. Every pregnancy will be a potential crime scene.
NACDL warns that these personhood laws “expand the reach of criminal liability,” a reach likely to ensnare the most financially strapped and perpetually vulnerable among us.
It is hardly a comfort to know that some small number of these suits will eventually reach the Supreme Court, which will no doubt find more rights to eviscerate on flimsy legal grounds. So many rights, so little time.
All we have is our vote, which doesn’t fill me with confidence. We have to vote Republican enablers out of office, keep a majority in the House, take 52 seats in the Senate, end the filibuster, and expand the Supreme Court. Piece of cake.
Meanwhile, we can be sure that no legal argument — regardless of its cogency, precedents, or social urgency — will ever stand in the way of these six justices doing whatever the fuck they want.
You and I couldn’t matter less.