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

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail