Abortion back in Supreme Court? Scary.

US Supreme Court building, front elevation, st...
US Supreme Court building, front elevation, steps and portico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new challenge to women’s reproductive rights could soon be heard by the Supreme Court, according to an insightful report posted by Linda Greenhouse September 4 on the New York Times Opinionator. The Court may decide whether or not to hear the case (Cline v Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice) by this fall, and its current make-up is unlikely to come down on the reproductive justice. It’s a scary scenario.

Scary because the case is going to be billed as “protecting women” while no one with a brain can fail to see it for what it is: a new attempt to make abortion virtually impossible for women in the U.S. A little sleight-of-hand interpretation of an old FDA ruling will translate to ending the use of RU-486. Greenhouse explains it better, but that’s the gist of it: medical abortion will cease to be available if anti-abortion forces win this case. State regulations continue to limit access, clinics continue to close; you don’t have to do much math to realize that reproductive rights are disappearing across the U.S.

We’ve been here before:

On one side is a woman. On another side is pregnancy tissue which is, in Greenhouse’s apt description, the size of a pencil eraser. Some of us believe the woman should have the right to choose what happens to that tissue within her body. Others of us believe it is already a life which must be protected at all costs and the woman be damned. Unfortunately, if access to safe abortion is again denied, women will again be damned. Damned to dangerous attempts to end unwanted pregnancies, or to “forced birth.” That “forced birth” phrase was used by a woman attending a recent reading of Perilous Times, who added, “We used to call that slavery.”

Whatever you call it, that tiny bit of pregnancy tissue is the real focus of Cline v Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, not the drug which can be used to cause its removal. The anti-abortion forces who value that bit of tissue over the woman carrying it have absolutely no concern for the woman. What they do have are political clout, irrational zeal, unscientific arguments, religious fervor and a Supreme Court likely to lean their way.

It’s a case to watch.


  1. “Reproductive Rights” is such a misleading term! This isn’t about the right to reproduction, it’s about the right to terminate an unborn baby’s life at ANY stage of development in utero. Having suffered 2 miscarriages in 6 months, I can tell you that there is an undeniable bond between that mother and baby. Losing those babies were devastating even though one was only 9 weeks along and the other 8 weeks, but the size of 6 weeks. Meeting other women who have had even later term miscarriages and having to deliver their babies stillborn at 18 weeks and 36 weeks, I can tell you the absolute devastation is alive and real. What’s the difference with me and these women and a woman who had an abortion? The ONLY difference you could argue is that the woman who had an abortion did not WANT the child for whatever reason. Knowing several couples (including myself and my husband) who have been unable to have children and so desperately want them, it seems to me that the best thing a woman can do is bless the world with her baby and, if she doesn’t want it or is concerned she can’t care for it like it should be cared for, then place it up for adoption. Let a couple who CAN give the child the life you would want it to have! My best friend had an abortion, she was young and her boyfriend at the time pressured her into it. She dealt for years with grief, anxiety, depression, and guilt over her choice. THIS is the norm, not the exception despite what current culture and media want to portray.

    So, no…I don’t see this as a “right” at all. I see this as destruction of innocent life. It isn’t the child’s fault on how it was conceived, so why should its life be cut short? I am more understanding in cases of rape or incest, but if its going to be legal it should remain legal for only such incidents. The farse is that this is a woman’s “right” to control her own body. The problem is, the baby’s body within her IS NOT her body, it is a separate person that only resides for a short time within the woman’s body.

    1. Thank you for those thoughts, Beth, and I’m sorry for your losses. I had several miscarriages myself and know how devastating that can be. My abortion was much earlier, in very difficult and unfortunate circumstances (perhaps you’ll read my book, my story is in it) and had I not been able to terminate that pregnancy I would never have had my greatly beloved children and mourned those miscarriages. Of course, I did not (and do not) equate an embryo or non-viable fetus with life. But I don’t claim that my faith is right or yours is wrong in how we see the beginning of life. I simply know from my own experience, and that of hundreds and hundreds of women who have shared stories with me, that every abortion is complex, personal and unique to the woman involved.

      I want to be clear about the fact that I am not “pro-abortion.” I would like to see it never happen. I’m sad for your friend, and hope she will be able to welcome a child into her life. Unfortunately, not every unwanted pregnancy involves a fetus that would become an adoptable, wanted child. Many would be born drug addicted or severely flawed in ways that would make their adoption unlikely. Additionally, banning abortion will not end unintended pregnancy.

      So should every woman with an unintended pregnancy be forced to carry that pregnancy to term? I don’t feel qualified to make that decision for anyone else, and that’s why I would rather trust women to make appropriate choices for themselves. And why I am not pro-abortion, but strongly pro-choice.

      Meanwhile, I hope we can honor each others’ beliefs and try to find ways to work together on things we do agree on — keeping unintended pregnancies from happening, promoting good health, building strong families. If we can find ways to understand and respect each others’ views it is my hope that some solution other than criminalizing abortion again can be found, because I am all too familiar with how terrible those days were for women. And I grieve with the women today who are desperate to end unintended pregnancies and are without safe options.

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