You’d have to be living under a rock not to know at least a little about what is happening in American jurisprudence right now. In a historically devastating leak, Politico got an advance copy of the draft of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health, the singular case poised to determine the Constitutionality of Roe v. Wade and its subsequent supporting case, Planned Parenthood v Casey.
In a stunning portion of the decision, Justice Samuel Alito writes,
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
That alone is chilling. But perhaps more astonishing are some of the other arguments forwarded in the opinion. Alito asserts that abortion is not protected, by and large, because it is “not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.”
Here is where his argument unfurls, and why women will never, ever be stopped by this ruling.
Alito claims, on behalf of the majority, that in America, abortion has been prohiited expressly by “an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment.”
He couldn’t be more wrong. If only Sam Alito and his likeminded, restrictive peers knew a tad bit about history, they’d know that until the late 1800s, abortion was not prohibited in any shape or form. There were not modern and safe mechanisms by which to deliver one, and yet indeed they were delivered. By physicians, nurses, midwives, and more — abortions were a commonplace need in the lives of women for a similar host of reasons to those sought today.
It was not until 1847, when the American Medical Association, a phalanx of men — predominantly wealthy white men — undertook to scrutinize the general practice of obstetrics. It was only at that point that the services of midwives and doulas, along with supporting obstetric nurses, were regulated in detail. The practice of midwifery, in fact, was nearly eliminated altogether despite having been the predominant method of assisted childbirth since the beginning of time.