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November 01, 2005
Put To Shame

Once again, I should have waited until I read more of other people's posts on the Alito nomination.

Hugo Schwyzer has an excellent post saying, in calmer, more temperate language, much of what I was trying to say.

There's a lively discussion going on in the comments, as usual. I haven't had a chance to read them all yet and I suppose this point is made there, but it's one that I think is worth posting here as well.

My primary objection to Alito's "women have to notify their husbands before they're allowed to have an abortion" stance is that it's anti-woman-as-equal. There's just no other way to read it.

I know twenty married women and their marriages range from the passionate to the indifferently tolerant, but they are married. They are in committed relationships. It is inconceivable to me that any of these women, upon discovering that they're pregnant, would make the decision to have an abortion and carry it through with no discussion or input from their husbands. (What kind of mind...what kind of relationship would someone have to accept as "normal" to think otherwise?)

The only reason to have such legislation would be to codify, in whatever small way, the legal fact that a married woman is not a fully equal human being but is subject to a man's wishes. Because, one assumes, there would have to be some kind of signed document from the man, acknowledging that he'd been informed of the planned abortion. That he, in effect, was "giving his permission" for it. And that's just wrong. My body. My choice.

Also? Laws don't only exist to protect the majority. They sometimes exist, or don't exist, to protect the minority.

In this case, the lack of Alito's preferred "notification" position means that women who are in abusive relationships will not be legally forced to endanger their lives and their health by attempting to get an abusive spouse to "give permission" for an abortion. Yes, the "unless she thinks he might kill her" exemption would have done the same thing, but by leaving the notification clause out entirely, the burden is not on the abused woman to prove she faces bodily harm or possible death.

But do read the comments in Hugo's post. Especially the first one from, "evil fizz" which saves me writing 500 words to make a simple, but important point.

There's a tendency on the part of some commenters to approve "notification" because it could be used as a tool to make certain the husband was aware of the abortion, because these people seem to think it's the government's responsibility to inform a man that there's a fundamental and serious problem with his relationship.

I'm out of time to address the headspin that gave me, or the sublimely ignorant (in the "knowledge of what you're talking about" sense) commenter who said it was easy enough for a woman to avoid abortion, she just had to give birth and then walk off and never see the child again.

Hugo's blog almost always has great discussions.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:48 PM