FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Legislators and Women’s Bodies

by ELAINE CASSEL

In one day, the federal government and the state of Florida stepped in to control the physical autonomy of a woman’s body.

In Washington, the Senate passed to so-called “partial birth abortion” ban, a gruesomely named procedure for an equally gruesome process that is only used by doctors in the second and third trimester of pregnancy to save the life or health of the mother. The procedure is rarely used, and with good reason. For the doctor and the mother, the procedure is a heartwrenching process in which painful choices have been made.

The Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade makes abortions in the first and second trimesters legal. Third trimester abortions are banned except to protect the health or save the life of the mother. The new law, expected to be signed by Bush immediately, in effect makes third semester abortions illegal altogether, and may do the same for some second trimester abortions.

Also yesterday, that crazy state of Florida enacted a law allowing Gov. Bush to order that feeding tubes be reinserted into 39-year-old Terri Schiavo, a woman who has been in a vegetative state for 13 years. Terry is not in a coma, and could live years longer, but to what end? Court-appointed doctors have reported that she has no cognitive abilities.

Her parents have objected to the removal of life-sustaining fluids, and their supporters have flooded the Internet with videos of Schiavo laughing and talking. When she did that is anyone’s guess, but it certainly has not been in recent years. Doctors say any physical responses are reflexive and not intentional acts.

Every court that has heard the case has ruled in favor of the husband. These include all the state higher courts, the federal courts, and the Supreme Court that refused to grant her parent’s appeal of the Florida court order that allowed the removal of feeding tubes.

The legal issue is not as clear as civil libertarians would hope. In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that a state can impose a high standard of proof on a proponent of removal of life-sustaining fluids when the patient has no advance medical directive. That case, Cruzan v. Missouri, left the door open for the state of Missouri to keep Cruzan alive, in spite of her parents’ pleas (Cruzan was not married).

Baby brother Bush has learned well from his big brother how to be an imperial leader, denying his subjects civil liberties. Gov. Bush earlier this year ordered the appointment of a guardian ad litem for the fetus of a mentally retarded woman who was raped in a Florida home for adults. He wanted to be sure the woman did not have an abortion (she did not, nor did she ever indicate that she would), even though an abortion would have been entirely legal under Florida law. In a statement last night, Bush said he was not “playing God.” Maybe he was just playing Machiavelli, then. He was definitely playing all-powerful-panderer to the political right.

Aside from the legal and ethical implications of the Florida and federal legislation, ask yourself this question: If these were men’s lives we were dealing with, would the law be ordering what should be done with their bodies?

I think not. In fact, I am sure that it would not.

ELAINE CASSEL practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teachers law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime’s dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. She can be reached at: ecassel1@cox.net

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail