Writing from my Jerusalem home, I am monitoring events in the US, the land of my birth, with sadness: the current situation is marked by a disintegration of traditional values.
Here I focus on issues regarding abortion and the Supreme Court ruling. Even prior to that ruling, something was seriously amiss, as a preliminary draft of the ruling was leaked. Yet such leaks are not supposed to happen.
The intent, of course, was to generate furor so that the Court might collectively change its mind. But that is not proper procedure within the Court. It rulings are not like legislative votes in Congress: members of Congress answer to their constituencies. The Supreme Court, however, entertains petitions emanating from lower courts. It hears oral arguments for a given case. Amicus curiae (friend of the Court) briefs may be filed, when permission is granted; they must contain relevant information, such as the perspective of an expert.
There are no opinion polls commissioned by the Court, and there is no time during which an average citizen can knock on the door and say, “Excuse me, but you need to consider what I want.” Cases are decided in a Justices’ Conference, during which only the Justices themselves are privy to the discussion. The Justices’ decisions are founded upon the information they have secured and their own considerable knowledge regarding US law and the Constitution.
The attempt to subvert this procedure – a formally spelled out procedure of long-standing – by leaking information in order to generate public opinion against the Court is a mark of outrageous disrespect for the Court, and a challenge to the process of law and order in the land.
Following the leak, mobs gathered outside the homes of some of the Justices, seeking to intimidate them into changing their votes. Then, on June 8, a heavily armed man was caught near the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; the man told police he intended to break into Kavanaugh’s home and kill him.
This should have shocked the nation into calling for a process of collective soul-searching. But it didn’t. Oh, there were laments, and the expected op-eds. But many were simply oblivious to the implications of what was transpiring, and some were without shame. There were actually demonstrations outside Kavanaugh’s home after the news of the intended assassination had broken – even though, in fact, these demonstrations are against the law (a law that is not enforced).
In May, activists had posted a map of justices’ homes. When former White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about this, she responded, “I think the president’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document.” Precisely what was implicitly condoned with that statement?
If we go back two years, we are reminded of the words of Democratic NY Senator Chuck Schumer, then Senate Minority Leader, directed at two justices of the Supreme Court, with regard to an earlier abortion issue: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch; I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” Schumer later regretted these comments, but is it possible for him to re-call the message he delivered?
In the end, the Court rendered its decision undeterred by the threats. The left reacted with hysteria; there have been riots and acts of violence, including something called “Night of Rage” in Washington DC.
None of this is surprising. This is how large numbers of leftist Americans express their dissatisfaction with a given situation today. But there is a basic fact staring the leftist protestors in the face: the Court did NOT say that abortion was illegal. The decision was with regard to the Constitution: There is no “right to abortion” in the Constitution. The Constitution does not mention abortion, nor can abortion rights be subsumed under privacy rights. The Roe v. Wade decision of 50 years ago, said this Court, erroneously ruled on abortion when it lacked the jurisdiction to do so: decisions on abortion REST WITH THE STATES. The Court was returning this power to the states, where it belongs.
Had the protesters an iota of a democratic sense, a sense that embraced the need for law and order, they would have approached the matter very differently. They would have begun to organize immediately within their respective states. They would have lobbied their legislatures, done op-eds, offered education in line with their position. All without threats or violence. That is what SHOULD be, so different from what is. This is what America could be, but is not.
In many states the laws on permitting abortion will be generous: even in states where there will be restrictions, it is not likely that abortion will be forbidden outright, especially not in the first trimester. And so the hysteria is clearly over the top.
And here I express my deepest concern:
There are those in the pro-abortion camp who see the right of women to abortions as an absolute. The ultimate value is a woman’s “right” to do what she chooses with “her” body. But when we speak of abortion we are also speaking about another being, who is existentially threatened. Somehow in the equation of the leftist pro-abortionists this fact is obscured or considered of no import. A fetus? It is a thing, not a being. In line with this thinking, restrictions have been erased, exacerbating the situation. Originally even Roe v. Wade did not permit abortions in the third trimester, when the fetus is potentially viable. A subsequent Court ruling permitted abortion to the moment of birth. And there are some states today where that is permitted.
This is, undeniably, infanticide: the killing – in horrendous fashion – of a viable fetus that could live outside the womb. I have even read reports (admittedly rare) of doctors who say that if the abortion process does not kill the fetus, and it emerges still alive, it does not have to be sustained – it is permissible to allow it to expire. It is the stuff of nightmares, of a nation whose moral sense has gone badly askew – that this would ever be permitted. Women’s “rights” have been expanded to override concerns for the life even of a viable fetus. And these expanded women’s “rights” are deemed so important that violence in their name is justified.
How excellent it would be, were there moderation on the issue – instead of a Left that pushes the envelope in a most self-absorbed fashion.
Yes, the argument could be made that abortion should be permitted — in the early weeks — if there is a threat to the physical or mental health of the mother; if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or the mother is underage. Yes, there are a number of reasons that could be used to justify an abortion in certain situations (and I note that Jewish law recognizes these reasons).
But oh, if only America celebrated life.
Arlene Kushner is an author, investigative journalist and blogger. She can be found at arlenefromisrael.info.