The Carhart Decision: Keeping Women Moral:
One should always - always - check out what Dahlia Lithwick over at Slate has to say about Supreme Court decisions. So in the Gonzales v. Carhart case upholding a Congressional ban on the intact dilation and extraction abortion procedure, check out Lithwick for her insight and cutting wit on Anthony Kennedy's bizarre majority opinion. As Lithwick points out, Kennedy's biggest problem seems to be that he finds the procedure gross - as in "eww." Icky and disturbing are sort of part and parcel of being a medical professional, but Kennedy focuses in, like Eli Roth with a gavel, on the disgusting details.

The text of the decision is mildly creepy, with its patronizing tone of patriarchal authority in support of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act: "Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child. The Act recognizes this reality as well. Whether to have an abortion requires a difficult and painful moral decision. While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow." Or, in other words, bitches is crazy. Kennedy also twice uses the medically-unaccepted, but pro-lifer beloved term "partial-birth abortion," with its inflammatory oversimplification. But it plays to the emotions, you know.

Further down, Kennedy says, "Medical uncertainty does not foreclose the exercise of legislative power in the abortion context any more than it does in other contexts." So, in the face of no data, the Supreme Court affirms that Congress has the right to decide what behavior is moral, based on majority notions of morality: "No one would dispute that, for many, D&E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life. Congress could nonetheless conclude that the type of abortion proscribed by the Act requires specific regulation because it implicates additional ethical and moral concerns that justify a special prohibition."

Beyond abortion politics, the breadth of that idea is stunning. It's some profoundly scary shit. Kennedy is saying that Congress can decide that "moral concerns" can "justify a special prohibition" on an act. Not to get all slippery-slop, domino-effect here, where does that end, once you stick morality into the equation? Are there First Amendment moral concerns that would require a special prohibition? Like saying and printing that some Supreme Court decisions are "models of fucktardery that seem as if they were written by mad geezers who are grumpy from taking so long to take a decent piss in the Judges' washroom"? For all you right-wingers proudly declaiming "Victory" today, dancing around with your model fetuses and frozen embryos, are there Second Amendment moral concerns that might result in a ban on certain kinds of guns?

President Bush and Vice President Cheney are fond of saying that the Congress is acting like 535 Commanders-in-Chief when it comes to war funding. But the Court yesterday affirmed that each member of Congress and every bugfuck nutzoid Christian gobbledy-gook spouter on a state legislature can be a woman's doctor: "Considerations of marginal safety, including the balance of risks, are within the legislative competence when the regulation is rational and in pursuit of legitimate ends." That "legitimate end," in the weird logic of the decision (as Ruth Bader Ginsburg points out in her dissent), is saying not to off the fetuses that way - off them some other way.

Or, in other words, Congress is now in the operating room with the doctor, who used to have to make the decision between the dilation and extraction method (the "partial-birth" abortion) and the dilation and evacuation method (the use of forceps to dismember an anesthesized fetus in the womb). The woman there has already made the decision to be there - it might have been a rugged, hard-thought decision, it might not have been - but the doctor now has had the procedural decision made for him or her, no matter what might be more medically sound in the circumstances. And that should frighten you no matter where you stand on abortion.

Anti-abortion activists always want pro-choice people to remember the gruesome details of what happens in an abortion. But they don't want to think about the implications of the government making laws abridging freedoms. Fundamentalists and others don't give a shit about implications - just shootin' some freebased political gratification to soothe that Christ jones runnin' in their veins. The best part for 'em is that they see this as just the beginning, that the overturning Roe v. Wade slope is slippery, and we're gonna tumble down giggling, sliding onto a cushion of women's corpses.

(By the way, for unintentional larfs, check out Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion, where he says, "Yeah, and fuck Roe v. Wade, too." It's a model of the yapping little bitch school of jurisprudence.)