What happened in Texas this last week is really bad. And I am not especially talking about what it means for reproductive rights. As you have probably heard, on Monday, the US District Court in Austin stopped part of Texas’ new anti-abortion law from going into effect because it was likely unconstitutional. Then today, the US Court of Appeals overturned that finding, claiming that the law likely was constitutional. What this reversal says to the people is that the judicial system is not objective in the least and will come to wildly different partisan decisions one on top of the other.
I’m not claiming that the original court decision was politicized. As it was, abortion rights activists were unhappy with it. It was a pretty typical, middle of the road, decision based upon the law. It only struct down a small part of the law as it was. But what it looks like to outsiders is that there are pro-choice judges on the district court and anti-choice judges on the appeals court. The second half of that is true. And the terrible thing is that the conservatives win when the people decide the whole system is rigged. But then, we’re pretty used to this. The conservative have a long history of making sure the government doesn’t work and then turning around and screaming, “We need to get rid of the government! It doesn’t work!”
Of course, the last thing that conservatives want to do is get rid of the government. There is no doubt that the conservatives want as big a government as the liberals. More and more, I think the conservatives want a much bigger government. They want an ever increasing military, despite the fact that we spend almost as much on our military as the rest of the world combined. They want everyone spied on all the time. They want lots of big government contracts for rich industrialists. They want welfare to be a bunch of big checks cut to fundamentalist churches. And most of all: they want a government worker in every operatory to make sure no woman ever gets an abortion!
Let me speculate a bit toward the future. Let’s suppose that the Christ fanatics got their way and Roe v. Wade was overturned. What would they do? The first thing would be to get the Supreme Court to find that all abortion is illegal. The anti-abortion crowd will not be happy that innocent “children” are being “murdered” in California and New York. Once they got that, they would move on to birth control. We are already seeing that. A large faction of the anti-abortion movement is against birth control and it doesn’t take much to figure out what they are really about. After that: no abortions anywhere and no birth control, there would still be more to do. They would want to make sure that all pregnant women took care of themselves. Can you say, “Death penalty for pregnant drug addicts”? I thought you could! Bottom line: much of the anti-choice movement is fascist.
The appeals court decision found that the law did not cause an “undue burden” on women’s right to get an abortion. But with the closed clinics, women in west Texas will have to travel hundreds of miles to get care. If that is not an undue burden, when why not just make abortion illegal throughout the United States. The women would still be able to go to Catholic Italy and get a legal abortion. I don’t see the big distinction between 600 miles and 6,000 miles.
Regardless, the whole thing is a mess. I’m sure that the anti-choice ideologues are certain of the justness of their cause. But it really bothers me. To me, it is all about compassion. In the name of the unborn—proto-humuns without lungs, brains, or (if you ask Thomas Aquinas) souls—these people seem to be willing to inflict the worst cruelty on actual breathing, thinking, and (if you listen to them) soulful people. What’s more, the Biblical justification for banning abortions is not at all clear. But the Bible is very clear on hubris—on what God thinks of people who put themselves in his position. In the end, their argument against abortion is very simple: their pastor told them it was wrong. There’s no God there—no Jesus there. Just their hubristic certainty that they and those around them know what God wants.
Unfortunately, we have some of the same kinds of thinking coming from our highest courts. Maybe the fundamentalist Christians are right: Satan has come to America, but he dressed to look like Jesus.