central to womanhood
In her angry dissent in Gonzalez v. Carhart, Judge Ginsburg writes that the majority decision...
… cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court-- and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lives.
Now imagine that you're speaking to an anthrolopogist, who has just returned from a visit to a previously undiscovered primitive tribal community on a remote island in the South Pacific. If he reports that the ability to bear children is a central factor in the lives of the tribe's women, you might figure that you'd met another one of those remarkable social scientists who has found a way to earn a salary by saying the blatantly obvious. But if he told you that the right to kill their own children was central to those women, you'd have to conclude that the island is a terrible place, populated by bloodthirsty pagan savages, and any sane traveler should stay away.
You might pause, though, to question whether the anthropologist's report was accurate. You can pause now, and ask yourself whether Judge Ginsburg is properly describing the mainstream thoughts of American society. Go ahead: think about it. The results may not be reassuring.
Then if you need a morale boost, consider this passage from a concurring opinion by Justice Thomas (with references removed, and emphasis added at the end):
I join the Court's opinion because it accurately applies current jurisprudence, including Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey. I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court's abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, has no basis in the Constitution.
Scalia joined Thomas in that opinion, so we know he agrees that the Roe decision is wrong. Roberts and Alito did not join in the concurring opinion-- although they joined the overall majority in Gonzalez v. Carhart. But they didn't explicitly disagree, either; so we can hold out the hope that in some future case they would join with Thomas and Scalia, and we'd need just one more vote...
But then again-- with apologies for pouring ice water over budding hopes-- if abortion really has become a central factor in the lives of American women, it's unrealistic to believe that 5 votes on the Supreme Court can repair society's wounds.
Yes, yes; I know. It was a simple majority in Roe that began this process. But they made water flow downhill. Now comes the hard part.
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