By Dave Andrusko
With all that has ensued following the untimely death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, we haven’t forgotten that the justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments March 2 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt which is a challenge to portions of the 2013 omnibus Texas law, HB2.
Over the next week, we will witness a ramping up of coverage of the first abortion case since 2007 when the High Court upheld a ban on partial-birth abortions. At issue are two commonsensical requirements: that abortionists have hospital admitting privileges and that abortion clinics meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical clinics.
The Washington Post story today, headlined “Abortion foes’ strategy faces a key test at the Supreme Court,” is an example. Sandhya Somashekhar’s account is very much worth reading.
However her story is marred by the usual narrative that can’t get out of its own way.
It is true that the Movement, led by National Right to Life, concluded that in the face of a hostile Supreme Court, that a step-by-step strategy (the “incremental” approach) would pay the richest dividends over time and surely in the short-term in the face of Supreme Court comprised of hostile justices. You can see that in the laws that NRLC’s state affiliates proposed and passed.
But that gradualist approach began long before (as it is implied in the story) the Movement took some terrific hits for the indefensible behavior of a tiny few.
We are led to believe that the Right to Life Movement cynically calculated that burdened with this bad PR, we concluded we needed to talk more about the harm abortion does to women and less about the baby.
Who backs this assertion? Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University and the author of “After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate,” who told Somashekhar, “The movement’s ultimate focus has always been fetal rights.” As Somashekhar paraphrased Ziegler, “The shift to a more incremental, woman-focused approach was strategic as much as anything.”
And if that weren’t enough, Somashekhar quotes Dawn Johnsen, “a law professor at Indiana University and a former Clinton administration official who long worked in the abortion rights arena” and Amy Hagstrom Miller, “chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, a chain of abortion clinics that is the plaintiff in the case before the Supreme Court” who assure the reader, “I think those who oppose abortion have been consistently opportunistic since the ’80s and will promote whatever argument gets them closer to overruling Roe and, as a practical matter, making abortion unavailable” (Johnsen).
And the coup de grace is, “Even as this strategy is being litigated [the Texas case], abortion foes are pushing a new raft of state bills, many of which echo the days when the fetus was more often at the center of their arguments,” according to Somashekhar.
This is so reminiscent of the either/or approach that is a part of the DNA of the pro-abortion movement but is the antithesis of what pro-lifers believe.
We are told we can’t try to prevent more Kermit Gosnells and ban an abortion “procedure” that is so barbaric it makes even pro-abortionists blanch. We are to accept as a given that we can’t require abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and stop aborting children whose development has reached the point that they will experience unimaginable pain as they are torn to pieces. That since we can’t stop all abortions, it is a “paradox” to pass a law that you can’t abort a baby just because she is a girl.
This is such nonsense. Our Movement has been there for women from the very beginning. Unlike pro-abortionists, we see the fate of unborn children and their mothers as inextricably intertwined.