Silent squires of suffering without Roe

By John Young

This is not about Alito, or Kavanaugh, or Gorsuch, or the Federalist Society, our now de facto judicial branch.

This is about Olivia. She’s 16. A beauty. A waitress. She met a guy. Dreamy. Twenty-two. Great car. Said he loved her. Then an EPT changed his tune. He lost that loving feeling. He’s gone.

A little romance, and a little statutory rape. To the Republicans who rule Olivia’s state, it doesn’t matter. Nor does any other contingency that would face a woman when a pregnancy brings lawmakers, mostly male, into her life.

Her body, her privacy, her medical decision, is not hers. It is theirs.

Again, this is about Olivia. The smooth-talking sire will bear no penalty. Men in good suits will bear no penalty, will never know inconvenience.

Or maybe on Election Day they will. This election and the next. Maybe the majority of Americans consistently supporting abortion rights will rise up and be counted.

No more apathy, no more assumptions that a woman’s reproductive decisions, and Americans’ privacy rights, will be protected by the Constitution.

That majority must make Republican lawmakers defend their choice, over and over.

Does anyone remember when it was hard to tell between Democrats and Republicans? I do. Kennedy and Nixon had so little that distinguished each other that their only true disagreement in their televised debates came down to the disposition of Quemoy and Matsu.

Don’t bother to look them up.

Now, the GOP has become a party of raw oppression. Democrats, or at least the vast majority holding public office, are the defenders of the oppressed.

Roe vs. Wade was so “egregiously” decided that 50 years of courts upheld it over and over and over.

But then, across that half century, justices were presumed to be about the law, and precedent, not what might tip a primary election.

And so here we are. Republicans and Fox News commentators want to talk about who leaked the fact that this court is about to dynamite Roe. They don’t dare talk about what this will do to women.

Not a word. Like Olivia’s boyfriend, they are mute, assuming they are immune to the consequences of what they’ve done. 

It is all sobering and scandalous: Like a con man ascending to the presidency with a million fewer votes than his opponent. Like a Senate refusing to have hearings for one Supreme Court nominee and rushing to have hearings for another.

This is not majority rule. This is a few having their way over the rest of a nation, and over the Constitution.

The tendency is to say, “These things happen.” That’s a cop-out.

The right to abortion hung in the balance going into the 2016 presidential election. Republicans knew what the stakes were. A lot of people who are aghast at what the Supreme Court is poised to do didn’t think things through. They stayed home that Election Day.

A lot of people want to blame the Electoral College for this development. Others want to blame the filibuster. Neither is correct.

The reason this happened was because of apathy – apathy that bequeathed us the Trump presidency, apathy that ceded the bullet points of this discussion to “pro-life” propagandists.

The demise of Roe will be a national tragedy. But now the battle lines are clear. They are in each state and each legislature.

No one running for statehouse should be allowed to waltz onto a stage without a succinct explanation of his or her stance on empowering the state to order a woman to gestate to term.

No one running for Congress or the statehouse should be allowed to wink away what happens when a woman is victimized by rape, incest or faces a life-threating pregnancy.

Alito, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch will never have to face what Olivia now must. But we must make every lawmaker face the ramifications of what these justices decide.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

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