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Betrayed by a Reactionary SCOTUS

Judy Stone, MD

Disclosures

June 30, 2022

The Supreme Court's decisions this past week have made us all — particularly women — more unsafe. The gun decision, especially on the heels of the Uvalde massacre and the rise in mass shootings, is incomprehensible. I'll address that in another post.

But the biggest betrayal for me, and women in this country, is the Supreme Court's overturning Roe v Wade — the focus here. First, these "Justices" should be impeached for lying under oath during their confirmation hearings. (Clarence Thomas at his 1991 confirmation hearings: "I believe the Constitution protects the right to privacy." Now, he clearly is acting as if there is no such right.)

https://twitter.com/RexChapman/status/1540366880921231364?s=20&t=2Y3Rz9NFGR_U8YHm1ZeD_g

To many of us, it appears that their decision is a profoundly Catholic one and, as such, is violating the First Amendment under the separation of church and state via the establishment clause.

The Supremes are imposing their Christian beliefs on people of all faiths. Not all religions believe that life begins at conception. Jewish and Muslim beliefs prioritize the mother's health. In fact, not only is abortion permitted by Jewish law but it is required to save the life of the mother. A mother's psychological health is also a consideration for Jews. Other religions have their own views, with Buddhism and Hinduism generally being more flexible than conservative Christianity.

In many states, abortion is now prohibited in cases of rape or incest. Even in states that allow it for the maternal health exception, a practical problem is how close to death the woman has to become before this is allowable — or before a physician risks his/her professional life and freedom? Savita Halappanuvar died from sepsis following a miscarriage. Doctors will be reluctant to do a dilation and curettage now, fearing being accused of performing an abortion. How many other women will needlessly die now because of someone else's religious beliefs? Many women will likely die from ectopic pregnancies because hospitals will adopt a wait-and-see approach.

We already have a problem with Catholic restrictions on healthcare throughout the country. There were five states where 40% or more of the acute care beds are Catholic-operated. Between 2016 and 2020, the number of geographic regions where a Catholic facility is the sole community hospital grew from 46 to 52.

It's one thing to say we should want to avoid the need for abortion, but in much of the country there is little to no sex education, and contraceptives are expensive and not readily available. Birth control is not 100% effective and can fail, leading to an unplanned and likely undesired pregnancy.

https://twitter.com/acweyand/status/1540726760379228160?s=20&t=2Y3Rz9NFGR_U8YHm1ZeD_g

Even Ireland and Mexico, both largely Catholic, have liberalized grounds for abortion. The decision to reverse Roe has made a mockery of US "freedoms" and is being subtweeted by WHO, France, Norway, and Spain.

https://twitter.com/WHO/status/1540362083065368577?s=20&t=2Y3Rz9NFGR_U8YHm1ZeD_g

More women will risk imprisonment as well as financial ruin. Mike Pence is a dangerous man, having been responsible for outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV in Indiana. Under his watch, women were also imprisoned for miscarriages. As I wrote previously for Forbes, "Purvi Patel is serving a 20-year sentence for feticide, although she says she suffered a miscarriage. Another Asian woman, Bei Bei Shuai, was imprisoned in Indiana for more than a year in a high-security prison after a suicide attempt during which the fetus died." Pence also signed a bill prohibiting abortion even in the case of serious fetal abnormality — like microcephaly. And in 2015, Pence tried to get a law passed forcing women to have funerals or cremations for aborted or miscarried fetuses and prohibiting tissue use for research.

Remember this when Pence challenges Donald Trump to run for president in 2024.

I could go on about men not having to assume any responsibility (or punishment) for pregnancy nor any financial responsibility for decades of care.

Clearly, the issues are much broader than "just" abortion and women's autonomy. Justice Thomas has made clear that he is coming for a broader attack on our freedoms and privacy, going after contraception and gay rights.

What can you do for now? Support voter protection, get-out-the-vote campaigns, and groups like Planned Parenthood and Abortion Funds. There are other useful suggestions from Buzzfeed.

In the meanwhile, remember this and take action.

https://twitter.com/amnesty/status/1540381135766953984?s=20&t=2Y3Rz9NFGR_U8YHm1ZeD_g

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About Dr Judy Stone
Judy Stone, MD, is an infectious disease specialist and author of Resilience: One Family's Story of Hope and Triumph over Evil and Conducting Clinical Research: A Practical Guide.

She survived 25 years in solo practice in rural Cumberland, Maryland, and now works part-time. She especially loves writing about ethical issues and advocating for social justice. Follow her at drjudystone.com or on Twitter @drjudystone.

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