Kavanaugh, abortion, and using the law as a weapon
Matt Ford of The New Republic looks at ways some states are trying to regulate abortions out of existence, without banning them outright. With Brett Kavanaugh giving the Supreme Court a conservative majority, the fear of pro-abortion activists is that restrictive abortion regulations will stand even if Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, is never challenged.
Cases that the Court might hear involve Louisiana and Missouri laws requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. If a clinic’s doctors are unable to get such privileges, the clinic would have to shut down, which places a burden on women who must then travel long distances to procure an abortion.
It’s clear to me that the purpose of such laws is to shut down the clinics, rather than to make them safer. The effect would be much the same as if Roe had been decided the other way and abortion bans were upheld; to outlaw abortion is to take the procedure “off the market,” and regulating clinics to extinction does the same thing.
That is what most laws and regulations are. They’re not about protecting workers or consumers, they’re weapons against peaceful activities that offend the sensibilities of the white middle class, which was and still is the largest voting bloc in the country.
The original abortion laws are an example. Abortion was common and legal in the United States up to the mid-19th century; not even the Roman Catholic Church said it was wrong in the early stages of pregnancy. Abortion bans were promoted to force women out of labor markets (because they have children to attend to) and to force white Protestant women to have more children so that the nation wouldn’t be overrun by the children of immigrants.
Sexism is also the root cause of laws against polygamy and prostitution, for at their core such laws say that women must be protected from their own choices.
And it’s not just sexism that creates law.
Labor laws such as the minimum wage were established so that blacks couldn’t work for wages lower than what whites were willing to accept. Zoning laws were a means of imposing racial segregation without explicitly saying so. Gun control was based on racism. So is the Drug War. Racism led to laws about who you could and couldn’t marry.
I could argue that all of these laws violate the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. I also acknowledge that the Supreme Court would strike them down only in a dream. With Kavanaugh on board, it’s unlikely the Court will even strike down those Missouri and Louisiana anti-abortion laws.
But they serve as a reminder. No matter what the stated purpose of a law may be, or however neutral its language sounds, the intent and consequence of most laws is to attack basic freedoms and increase inequality.
Laws that regulate peaceful activity are weapons of mass discrimination. Let’s deny their moral validity and get rid of them.