A Warning Bell on Hoe v. Jade
columnist Ellen Goodman sounded a warning
bell because she fears a woman's "right to choose" might
be overturned by the Bush administration. My mind wandered as I
read her column, and I imagined another columnist, writing 50 years
from now, sounding a similar warning:
Warning Bell on Hoe v. Jade
Eileen Goodwoman, 1/19/2053
22 is the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing
infanticide. I'm usually wary of pro-choice alarmists whose message
the sky is falling and falling plays on an endless
for the first time since Hoe, the White House and both houses of
Congress are all securely in Republican hands, and all hands are
ready to chip away at maternal rights one law, one rule,
one regulation, one case at a time.
will begin no doubt by voting to outlaw the procedure heatedly if
wrongly called "almost-teen infanticide," where a child is killed
on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, the last day infanticide
is legal. Then they'll take up a law against bringing minors across
state lines to avoid spousal notification. Then more laws giving
children rights that equal or surpass those of women. And more laws
allowing hospitals to stop providing infanticide without risking
the right gift for this anniversary a warning bell?
years is a long time. It's long enough for an entire new generation
to take for granted the right to decide. Young people don't remember
a time when women had to carefully hide the fact that she had eliminated
a child, or find a hit man who was the friend of a friend of a friend.
For this generation, says one pollster, a bathtub is just a bathtub.
some ways, the luxury of choice has given many the luxury of ambivalence.
As Frances Quisling of Catholics for a Free Choice acknowledges,
"Those opposed to infanticide have marketed prolife very successfully
as a pro-children, pro-family, pro-nice, pro-flowers way of looking
at the world. What a load of crap! I hate them. Hate hate hate hate
2045 there have been 335 state laws restricting a woman's right
to choose what to do with her own children. These laws have
affected mostly poor, young, rural women women far off the
political radar screen.
what happens in the presence of a threat to the right itself? Thirty
years of opinion polls have also shown that Americans consistently
support legal infanticide for three reasons: "unruly brats, divorce,
and me." Anti -infanticide activists play on the sense that someone,
somewhere, is eliminating a child for frivolous reasons. But Americans
believe that the women we know, the women we are, can be trusted
to decide the fate of our own children for ourselves.
the other side of this anniversary story is that "me" now includes
an estimated 30 million women who have eliminated more than 39 million
children since Hoe. "That's 30 million women who have been able
to get on a bus, get in a car, go with a friend, eliminate an unhappy
kid, and go home," says Quisling.
30 million different stories with emotions ranging from anxiety
to relief. "How does a president tell 30 million women that they
did something evil? How can Congress say that to those women and
their boyfriends, husbands, children, mothers and get away
with it?" she asks.
now, the politics have been easy. President George Z. Bush has been
able to talk about "a culture of life." But he has also, carefully,
repeatedly avoided saying that he wanted to overturn Hoe. He's curried
to the right while trying not to frighten the suburban middle.
"United States" has exported the most draconian family planning
ideas. His "United States" has allowed the anti-infanticide, anti-sex
education, anti-birth control right to rule our foreign policy.
on the 30th anniversary, push is coming to shove, foreign policy
is coming home. Thirty years. Thirty million. This time we'll be
2003 Gene Callahan
Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives