More On Media Disinformation To Confuse The Public About Roe And SCOTUS

I finally ditched my expensive print subscription to the Times, but old sections and articles are scattered hither and yon. One is an April 10 Sunday Review section that has one of Jamelle Bouie’s columns. It has proven enlightening in the wake of the subsequent freakout over the impending reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Facts Don’t Matter to Bouie, who has toned down his brazen anti-white racism a tad since moving to the Times from Slate, where he was the resident race-baiter. (His Ethics Alarms dossier is here.) Now and then, as in this case, he even writes about something not exclusively racial. His April 10 column included a revealing paragraph in his attack on the concept of judicial review, which, if it were banned as today’s Democrats appear to fervently wish, would allow a sufficiently totalitarian-minded party in control of Congress and the White House to ignore the Constitution and pass laws “for the greater good” that violate it.

Bouie wrote in part,

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The Dishonesty And Desperation Of “Pro-Choice” Advocates In The Wake Of The Dobbs Leak, Part I: Anything But The Issues

Another one of the ironic boons from the despicable Supreme Court leak of Justice Alito’s draft majority opinion portending that Roe v. Wade is about to be overruled is how vividly it has exposed the intellectually dishonest and unethical nature of “pro choice” arguments. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following the abortion debate diligently, but in their fury and panic, abortion advocates are revealing just how weak their case is. They are also revealing that those who are willing to sacrifice nascent human lives for other objectives tend to have no compunction about using rationalizations, ad hominem attacks, classic logical fallacies and fearmongering as well as outright lies, when they finally have to defend their positions.

The reappearance of the costumes from “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is a neat symbol of the whole phenomenon. (How many of such protesters haven’t read Roe, the Alito draft, or Margaret Atwood’s novel? My guess: most of them.) To be fair, prominent Democrats like this guy endorsed the hysteria:

That delusion was apiece with the suggestion that women could force men to support abortion on demand by going on a sex strike. Similarly ducking the issues are the illegal demonstrations at the homes of Justices before it is even known who voted to end Roe, and President Biden’s moronic declaration in response to the leak that “this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in American history—-in recent American history.”

Since Roe v. Wade has been almost unanimously regarded in legal and academic circles as a badly reasoned opinion (even Ruth Bader Ginsburg conceded it was a botch), the epitome of flagrant judicial activism and legislation by judges, those trying to defend the decision now have had to resort to distractions, diversions, straw men and fictional slippery slopes. “Next those fascists will ban inter-racial marriage and Brown v. Board of Education!” more than a few Democratic officials and pundits have proclaimed, apparently forgetting that just a few weeks ago they were demanding that Justice Thomas, the dean of the Court’s conservatives, recuse himself because of the activities of his very white wife.

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Andrew Sullivan On The Dobbs Leak Freakout

It has been fascinating to watch Andrew Sullivan, a conservative turned Trump-deranged progressive during from about 2015 on, express his rising dismay at his adopted “side’s” drift to totalitarianism as it uses lies as metaphorical oars in the stream of public opinion.. Sullivan is too emotional to be a reliable pundit, but he’s smart and writes like an angel. His current essay about how Democrats and progressives have abandoned even the pretense of rationality is instructive.

He also mounts an impressive list of ridiculous statements by abortion fans and supposedly trustworthy progressive commentators that are signature significance. Nobody should trust people who say or write garbage like this. Ever. Here are some of Andrew’s gems, only some of which I had stumbled over earlier (the comments in parentheses are mine, not Sullivan’s):

  • Roxane Gay tweeted:“I have typed and deleted a great many comments What do you say when nine people can dictate what happens to your body? It’s ridiculous and hateful.” [That is not, of course, what a reversal of Roe would mean, but disinformation has always been at the heart of the “pro-choice” position.]

  • “The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer announced that the court had abolished the entire 20th century. Yep: no more suffrage for women! Jim Crow now!”

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    Jessica Valenti: “Stripping women of their humanity and rights isn’t a consequence of the ‘pro-life’ agenda, it’s the entire point.” 

  • The Washington Post’s now thoroughly insane Jennifer Rubin: “The right-wing justices and their supporters appear ready to reject one of the Founders’ core principles: that religion shall not be imposed by government edict.” (The smear that opposing Roe constitutes a religious edict is truly despicable, and a lot of abortion fans are stooping to it.)

  • Kurt Andersen another one:“It really is kind of remarkable that only one in five Americans call themselves Catholic, but of the Supreme Court majority apparently about to permit abortion to be outlawed, all but one are Catholic and that one was raised Catholic.”

  • Kamala Harris (who supports her adversary’s position every time she tries to counter it, whatever the topic) was, predicably, Kamala-like:

    Those Republican leaders who are trying to weaponize the use of the law against women. Well we say, ‘How dare they?’ How dare they tell a woman what she can do and cannot do with her own body? How dare they? How dare they try to stop her from determining her own future? How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms?

To this and more, Sullivan observes,

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Professional Ethics Breach Alert! The Draft SCOTUS Abortion Opinion Leak

The issue right now is simple. Someone with access to Justice Alito’s draft majority opinion in THOMAS E. DOBBS, STATE HEALTH OFFICER OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL., PETITIONERS u. JACKSON WOMEN’S HEALTH ORGANIZATION, ET AL. leaked it to Politico. This is the worst breach of professional ethics in the history of the Court. It is the worst breach of professional ethics in the history of the federal court system. If a lawyer, such as a law clerk, was responsible, he or she should be, and probably will be, disbarred.

The draft is here.

I haven’t read the draft: the thing is 67 pages long, and I just got it. The conclusion, however, is clear:

We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not pro­hibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibit­ing abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.

The judgment of the Fifth Circuit is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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A Second Introduction To “Thoughts On What An Ethical Solution To The Abortion Ethics Conflict Might Look Like, Part 2: A Solution”

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I decided that it was finally time to complete and post Part 2, having promised it way back in September. The impetus is two polls on the subject released today and yesterday. But having read the polls, I feel like a second introduction to Part 2 is necessary. (The first introduction, posted a day after Part I, is here.)

The first introduction closed, “Absent something that causes a tipping point in public opinion on the same level of influence as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” [on the public’s perception of slavery] the approach to abortion I offer in Part 2 is, and will ever be, impossible.” The two polls purport to tell us what the public’s current perception of abortion is. At least, that’s how they are being presented in the news media, which, as we all know, is completely unbiased on this topic as well as others.

I’m joking. Most of the media is ignoring the second poll, by Marquette, which makes the Washington Post-ABC poll that is more positive toward abortion incoherent. The Marquette poll found that more of those polled favored a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy than opposed it. Survey respondents were asked if they would favor or oppose a ruling to “uphold a state law that (except in cases of medical emergencies or fetal abnormalities) bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.” This is a direct reference to to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which SCOTUS will hear oral argument regarding on December 1. The case turns on the constitutionally of a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after….. 15 weeks of pregnancy. Allowing the law would, if not overrule Roe v. Wade, significantly limit it. Yet 37% of those polled approved of a decision upholding such a law, while 32% opposed such a result. The remaining 30% said they didn’t know enough to make a decision.

In most polls on other topics, that group that pleads ignorance are apathetic slugs, but on this topic, maybe they are the wise ones. How many Americans really know what Dobbs is about, or even what Roe v. Wade really says? My guess is considerably less than 50%. Maybe less than 25%. 10%?

The Post-ABC poll that is being waved triumphantly in the public’s face is the one summarized in the diagram above (the data is here) and claims that large majorities of Americans “support maintaining Roe v. Wade, oppose states making it harder for abortion clinics to operate and see abortion primarily as a decision to be made by a woman and her doctor, not lawmakers.” How can that be the case if a majority also believes that woman and doctors should not be able to decide to abort an unborn baby after only 15 weeks?

It can’t.

What’s going on here?

Americans, except for small numbers of activists on both sides, haven’t thought carefully about the issues in abortion sufficiently to have an informed opinion about it. That’s what.

I would like to have the groups polled by Marquette and ABC/Washington Post pollsters asked if they have read Roe. What’s your guess: how many would say they have? 5%? Less? How many have thought about when a fetus should have the right to live? If they were shown a photo of a fetus at 8 months, would they support aborting it? Six months? Three?

Of those who say they support abortions in the case of rape or incest, and were asked why how a human is conceived should change its right to live, how many could answer intelligently? How many have thought about it? How many have the education and critical thinking skills to analyze the problem competently?

If you asked if a man who killed a woman who was three months pregnant should be prosecuted for killing one human being or two, what would the majority answer? If they answered “two” and then they were asked, “How can it be murder if an unborn child is killed by anyone else, but no crime if the killer is the mother?,” how many would mutter “Huminahumina”?

The vast, vast majority of Americans thinks about abortion so shallowly as to be ethically useless, simply following their peer groups, or joining one team of the other who band together under deliberately misleading labels: “pro-life,” which ignores on of the crucial interests in involved in abortion policy, and “pro-choice,” which ignores the other. Or they don’t think about abortion at all.

No political, legal or societal acceptable solution to the abortion ethics conflict is possible when the public remains this ignorant and apathetic. A condition precedent to any solution, therefore, is to bring about a dramatic shift in public consciousness and commitment—that tipping point I mentioned before. That’s what “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” did: it forced people who had never thought seriously about slavery and what it meant to think, and once they did, they opposed it.

Polls are easily manipulated and generally do more harm than good, but these two, taken together, show us a way out. The public needs something or someone who will make its members think about abortion and its issues, honestly and without the spin, obfuscation, emotionalism and bullshit. If a metaphorical slap in the face could be found for slavery, one can be made for abortion.

So getting to that slap is the first part of any solution.

Got it.

Now I’m finally ready to finish Part 2…

This Weekend In Pro-Abortion Ethics

SCOTUS protest

Let’s examine this by categories….

Warped Concepts of How the System Works: Yet another Women’s March, like all of them, misleadingly labeled to avoid the ugly transparency that “March to be Able to Kill the Unborn at Will” would broadcast, ended up at the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday. Thousands traveled to Washington, D.C. to demand abortion rights, as if the Supreme Court decides complex issues according to who shouts the loudest, is most passionate, or has the coolest signs. Demonstrators surrounded the court,shouting “My body, my choice” and cheering loudly to the beat of drums.

Morons. These assaults on the Curt have driven me mad for decades, as what they demonstrate is that difficult matters of law, precedent and policy can be decided by slogans and the incoherent bellows from a mob. It’s an insult to the Court, the Constitution, and the system. If you have a valid argument, file an amicus brief. These demonstrations, and it doesn’t matter what their goal is our which side of the ideological spectrum they come from, waste time, energy, passion and taxpayer funds. Is the idea intimidation? Good luck with that. Persuasion? Sure, a bunch of screaming and weeping activists are going to persuade anyone but TV talking heads. Narcissistic grandstanding?

There you go.

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Thoughts On What An Ethical Solution To The Abortion Ethics Conflict Might Look Like, Part I: 25 Stipulations

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This is Labor Day, after all…

Eventually it is irresponsible and cowardly to criticize all of the rhetoric regarding abortion and not make a serious proposal. I feel like I’ve reached that point.

Let’s start with what we have to work with.

25 Stipulations

I have not labored to put these in order of priority or importance, and many constitute “but on the other hand” reflexes upon considering the previous point. I’ll bold the items that seem particularly important as I post them. I am certain that I will miss some or many points that need to be considered as well.

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Texas’s Clever Anti-Abortion Law

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The Texas law, which went into effect yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block it on a 5-4 vote. (Guess which justices were on each side. Next question: Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?) The law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is after about six weeks of pregnancy. Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion until a fetus was viable (by the medical standards of 50 years ago), would seem to preclude such laws, which other states ( Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio) have passed only to have them held in limbo by the courts The Texas law is the first to be implemented, in part because it approaches the issue from a clever (some might say diabolical) perspective.

The law does not make exceptions for rape or incest, as it should not: if the objective is to protect the human life of the unborn child, how that life came into being is irrelevant. It does permit abortions for health reasons, allowing a termination only if the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life or might lead to “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” The clever part is this: the Texas law doesn’t require state officials to enforce it, meaning that abortions won’t he halted by government action. The Texas law deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who performs an abortion or “aids and abets” a procedure. Any citizen has standing, regardless of connection to the patient, the abortion doctor or the clinic and may sue and recover legal fees along with $10,000 if they win.

This means that the Supreme Court will have to consider not only whether the Texas law in unconstitutional, but whether it can even be challenged in court, what the SCOTUS majority called “complex and novel” procedural questions. Predictably, while the majority opinion was relatively restrained, the dissenters freaked out.

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Predictable But Depressing: SCOTUS Agreeing To Consider What Is A Viable Unborn Child Triggers Emotional And Irrelevant Obfuscation From Pro-Abortion Propagandists

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Gee, that was fast! All the Supreme Court did was agree to look at a part of 1973’s Roe v.Wade that has been rendered anachronistic by subsequent developments in science and medicine, and the pro-abortion lobby freaked out. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization involves the 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case raises the obviously relevant ethical, moral and legal question of when human life can be and should be subject to law’s protection. Roe, nearly a half century-old now, based its limits regarding when an abortion was a woman’s constitutional right on when an unborn child was “viable,” a word that requires a conclusion about when human life begins as well. It is not only reasonable but necessary for the court to clarify this. Question 1 in the petition for the writ of certiorari is “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Good question.

So why the freakout? Simple: neither side in the abortion debate has ever been willing to debate the issue fairly, as both ignore the obviously relevant rights and issues of one of the two human beings involved in the abortion equation. As Ethics Alarms has pointed out before and will continue to do until the stars turn cold, this is an ethics conflict, and a difficult one. Two strong ethical principles are opposing each other, both with major societal implications. In ethics conflicts, the ethical process of balancing is required, but neither side is willing to risk balancing regarding abortion. Thus both have conducted their side of the debate by dishonestly denying the existence of the ethical realities opposing the result they want. The anti-abortion advocates refuse to give fair weight to the effect an unwanted pregnancy can have on a woman’s life and future, and women’s legitimate interests in their own autonomy (which still may not be absolute.) Pro-abortion advocates deliberately ignore the fact, and it is a fact, that abortion involves the taking of human life.

This mutual dishonesty is reflected in the euphemisms the sides of the controversy use to obscure the real problem. “Pro Choice” makes it sound like the only issue is a woman’s autonomy ( Life? What life?). “Pro Life” wrongly cuts the interests of the women involved out of the balancing act. This is the reason the abortion debate has made no progress in a hundred years. The two sides are talking about two different things, and have neither the integrity nor the honesty to deal with the balancing problem.

Roe was a badly reasoned and irresponsibly issued ruling, authored by a serial SCOTUS mediocrity, Justice Harry Blackmun. Somehow, the opinion bootstrapped abortion into being a right under the “unenumerated” Constitutional right of privacy by analogizing it to birth control. But the case in which the Court rightly found that the State had no business telling couples that they could not engage in birth control didn’t involve killing anyone. I’d call that a material distinction.

Roe was one of the most breath-taking leaps of law and logic in the history of the Court, and a throbbing example of judicial activism run amuck. Nonetheless, it has been the law of the land long enough to be regarded as stare decisus; for good and practical reasons, over-ruling the entire case would be bad judicial policy. Addressing aspects of the opinion that were based on scientific assumptions no longer valid, however, is common sense, as well as sound legal policy.

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OK, “Jane Doe” Was A Lying, Venal, Fick. It Doesn’t Make Abortion Any More Or Less Ethical

In the final 20 minutes of the documentary “AKA Jane Roe,” “Roe,” whose real name was Norma McCorvey, reveals that when she converted to an anti-abortion, born-again ex-gay Christian with the help of leaders of the evangelical Christian right, she was scamming them, us, everybody. Before that stunning reversal, she had been at the center the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, in which the U.S. Supreme court declared that the right to have an abortion was protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“This is my deathbed confession,” she says in the film, sitting in a chair, on oxygen, in her nursing home room , quite evidently pleased with herself. She is asked , “Did [the evangelicals] use you as a trophy?” “Of course,” she replies. “I was the Big Fish.”

“Do you think you would say that you used them?” “Well,” says McCorvey, “I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say. That’s what I’d say.” She even gives an example of her scripted anti-abortion lines. “I’m a good actress,” she points out. “Of course, I’m not acting now.”

Of course.

McCorvey isn’t the first litigant in ground-breaking jurisprudence to change her mind. William J. Murray, the atheist son of activist Madeline Murray O’Hair, who used his complaint about being forced to pray in school to launch the litigation that eventually  got all school prayer in public schools banned as unconstitutional, later became an ardent Christian. This always leads opponents of the decision to respond with “See? SEE?” Continue reading