Dingus of the Week: The Supreme Court
Pack the court, you cowards
It’s the weekly dingus! The Friday newsletter that rounds up one dingus from the week in news and popular culture. (I recognize there are often many.) And shares some internet reads and a drink recipe. If you enjoy this, consider subscribing. I also accept hate subscribes. But only paid subscribers can comment to tell me how bad this newsletter is.
Buckle up, because I’m mad. In America, Lady Justice isn’t just blindfolded, she’s also being held down and forced to give birth.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that threatens the integrity of reproductive rights in America. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization involves a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
However the case is decided— whether the Mississippi law is upheld or whether it’s upheld and the standard of Roe is decided—the fact that the justices are even hearing a challenge to what ought to be a matter of settled law shows how completely politicized the judiciary has become, and that’s their fault.
It’s worth pointing out that in their confirmation hearings, the conservative justices all demurred on issues about Roe, citing that it was settled legal precedent. And that was clearly a lie. During oral arguments, many of the conservative justices showed their hands.
For example, Justice Amy Coney Barrett simply suggested that since there was adoption, women should just have the babies. Just have them. Like that, as if it were the easiest thing in the world and not costly major surgery, and that’s if you are lucky to be privately insured. If not? Screw you, I guess. Additionally, for many women, forced birth, which is what Amy Coney Barrett is talking about, is a death sentence. America has the highest maternal death rate of developed nations. That number is worse for Black, brown, and Indigenous women.
And should you live through the experience, giving birth results in a loss of wages. Women, particularly mothers, earn less and advance in their careers less compared to men.
America provides little support for parents. We are one of the few countries without a paid leave policy. And also, here is the point that I can’t believe I have to say: Women are human beings with autonomy. If we don’t want to be pregnant, we should not have to be. Women are not cattle. We don’t just birth humans and get back to work.
And actually, after watching how Republican lawmakers acted during the pandemic, rushing to save hogs from being slaughtered while workers caught COVID-19 and died, it’s evident that there are people in this country who see me as less than cattle.
Also, as Elizabeth Spiers pointed out in an op-ed, adoption is traumatic, even when it is works.
But listen, I don’t want to write ad nauseum about how contraception saved my life after a sexual assault in college. I already did that. I wrote an entire book arguing for reproductive freedom and warning about all the multiple forces that were trying to take freedom away from women. Certainly, I don’t want to put here all the stories of women who exist and do their work because they were able to abort a fetus. Those stories already exist. But listen, women shouldn’t have to open our veins and bleed for you to see us as human. We should not have to write and talk about our traumas, our assaults, triumphs, and every secret part of us for you to understand our full humanity.
And a religious definition of when life begins should not interfere with my right to make choices about my body.
Also, the idea that life began at conception was only adopted by the religious right as a political tool to roll back the rights of pregnant bodies and to deny women access to vital health care. And also, that heartbeat you hear at 8 weeks? It’s an electrical current that’s hardly equivalent to my adult heartbeat. But this has never been about reality. Only about spinning a myth in order to exert control.
We can sit here all day and argue about when a fetus becomes a human. But I, a woman, a live woman sitting here before you, I am fully human.
The oral arguments revealed how so many justices do not see me as human.
Amy Coney Barrett is a wealthy white woman who has had every advantage, and now she’s sitting there blithely on the Supreme Court wondering why everyone can’t be like her, while she’s taking away whatever chance other women have to get there. Women do not have it all.
A group of 154 economists also wrote to the court, saying the idea that children no longer affect women’s trajectories is “premature and false.” Also, the group said, sophisticated economic methods have demonstrated causal effects of abortion access. Researchers were able to compare similar people who either could or couldn’t get an abortion based on a policy change, as Caitlin Knowles Myers, an economist at Middlebury and an author of the brief, has described.
Brett Kavanaugh, who has credible charges of sexual assault against him, said during oral arguments, “The reason this issue is hard is that you can’t accommodate both interests [of fetus and pregnant person]. You have to pick.”
You actually don’t have to pick. The fetus has no interests and viability beyond the pregnant person. And even if you saw it that way, the reasonable choice is to let the pregnant person make those tough decisions with their doctor. And not to have a state impose how to decide in those situations.
This has always been about railroading the nuance of the human body. Divide a woman into parts. Divide her against herself and she will not stand. And it will not end here. The push to control the unruly bodies of America, the queer bodies, trans bodies, Black and brown bodies, has always been in existence and will continue.
Kavanaugh argued that the Constitution was neutral on abortion. But as Moira Donegan pointed out, the Constitution is only neutral on abortion if you don’t see women as actual human beings worthy of rights.
Of course, there is a lot of gamesmanship about the eventual outcome of this ruling and how it will motivate people in the elections, and if that’s you, then may I politely ask you to go to hell. The rights of half the people in this country are not a political football that you can toss about. Also, if that’s you, congratulations because you are also a dingus. If your first thought on considering the loss of female bodily autonomy is how it’s gonna play out for Biden, and not like, the actual loss of human life that will result, that has already resulted. If you are not considering the loss of talent and work and contributions to the world because women will be forced to give birth. If it’s just a political game to you? Well, then, please walk into the sea.
But what could it all mean?? is a refrain, particularly among men, but I’ll tell you we don’t have to imagine what will happen. It’s already happening. Huge swaths of this country already have rolled back access to reproductive care. Women are already prosecuted for using drugs during pregnancies and having miscarriages. Women are already forced to give birth. If you read anything about reproductive care and access you would know this. You would know that there are large reproductive care deserts in America. You would know that in Iowa, Planned Parenthoods have been forced to close and the rates of STDs have sky rocketed. You would know that the state here has a list of places women can go for reproductive care that is an actual joke. And it includes a dentist office.
What could it all mean? WOMEN HAVE BEEN TELLING YOU FOREVER WHAT IT COULD ALL MEAN. WILL YOU PLEASE LISTEN!
Look, Alice Driver, already wrote about it. Read ReWire news. Listen to just one woman. JUST ONE (except Amy Coney Barrett).
We don’t have to guess what will happen. We know. Our mothers remember. Our grandmothers lived the consequences. I once interviewed a woman who talked to me about when contraception was legalized and how stigmatized it was, but also how necessary it was.
What we saw on Wednesday and what we will continue to see is that whatever freedom we had was tenuous at best.
So, we don’t have to guess what all of this means. What we have to do is what we should have been doing for years and look at the reality of our nation with clear and open eyes. As Charles M. Blow noted in the Times (in a conversation I don’t recommend reading unless you want to watch Ross Douthat call his colleagues murderers to their faces): “Rights are never forever won. They must be constantly, vigilantly defended. And, unfortunately, they are sometimes lost. This dance is beaten into the blood of Black people in this country.”
Freedom isn’t a static state. Freedom is a place we have to keep fighting for.
Anyway, pack the courts, fuck the filibuster. Stop playing nice when lives are on the line.
What I Am Reading:
Always read Sarah Jones on Roe. And last night I read The Stepford Wives, which phew. I guess I’ll be writing about that book.
But also, please read this honest essay about a woman who didn’t have an abortion at 19 and what it cost her. And particularly pay attention to how well she writes about how we erase women’s identities with the labels of mother and wife and never let them be persons in and of themselves.
Eli Hager wrote for ProPublica about how Utah is making welfare benefits so hard to access that they are joining the church. And yes. That is the point. Religious conservatives across America are gutting social services and filling in those gaps with religious institutions (like in the case of crisis pregnancy centers), which rely on forcing people to adhere to religious teachings in order to get the basic help they need. It’s not great that churches are filling in the gaps to offer insurance. Because what happens is, the church becomes the state and the institutionalized and regressive ideas of behavior are enforced. A church, after all, doesn’t have to give you pregnancy support if you are having sex with your boyfriend or are a trans person. This isn’t benevolence, it’s religious abuse.
This week, I wrote about disguise and who gets to hide.
What I Am Drinking:
Last week, inspired by a Food 52 post, I froze up some coffee ice cubes. Then, I mixed some bourbon with chocolate bitters and added the coffee ice cube. It was absolutely perfect. The original recipe calls for brown sugar. And I bet a cinnamon simple syrup would be incredible as well.
Gonna drink that and blast this song on repeat all weekend.
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