Amanda Marcotte’s article on a 2007 decision of Brett Kavanagh, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, reveals the beating heart of the anti-abortion movement is all about choice, not abortion.
When Kavanagh was a judge on the US Court of Appeals, DC circuit, he filed the decision in Doe Tarlow v District of Columbia. In this case, two disabled women sued the DC department responsible for their health care for forcing them to abort pregnancies they wanted to keep. The court held they did not have a right to be consulted in the decision to terminate their pregnancies.
It was a ruling against bodily autonomy, the bedrock human right that forms the foundation of the right to choose abortion. It was a ruling in favour of controlling women’s reproductive capacities. Kavanagh is saying even if the state actor decides against maintaining the pregnancy, it’s okay as long as it wasn’t the pregnant person deciding.
It’s easy to be jaded about hypocrisy coming from the states. But anti-abortion groups have placed Kavanagh on high like the Second Coming of Antonin Scalia. There is not the slightest chance they will revisit their support because of this decision. That is because this debate was never about abortion; it was always about control.
And then there is the fact these were disabled women being denied bodily autonomy. Once again, it falls to the reproductive rights movement to stand up for the rights of disabled people to make their own decisions about their sexuality. Which we will always do.
I used to sometimes cringe a bit when I heard the phrase ‘pro-choice movement’ because it sounded like a euphemism. I am proudly pro-abortion for everybody who wants one, in the same way I am proudly pro-airbag for everyone in a head-on collision. Its counterpoint, anti-choice, seemed to perpetuate the euphemism.
Now I see ‘anti-choice’ was exactly right. Literally.