Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic...and Roberts

Everyone by now has been briefed on the gist on Roberts past anti-Roe legal history. He argued on the behalf of anti-abortion protesters many times. But in one case in particular, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, Roberts argued on the behalf of Operation Rescue, who claimed within their defense that they "weren't opposed to women, but were opposed to abortion". Riiight, it's never about the women. (via Planned Parenthood)

In 1993 the U.S. Supreme Court heard Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, a case in which anti-abortion protesters, including the leadership of the extremist group Operation Rescue (OR), challenged an injunction against their activities, which included blocking access to health care facilities in the Washington, DC, area.[...]

The injunction being challenged by anti-abortion extremists was based on an 1871 civil rights statute that provided protection against private conspiracies, such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) preventing blacks from exercising their new-found freedoms. Applying the KKK Act to anti-abortion violence was a perfect match. It helped cast OR and other such groups in the same mold as the KKK, the difference being that in this case it was women who were being prevented from exercising a relatively new freedom.

But there were problems. Earlier Supreme Court cases had held that that for the KKK Act to apply outside the context of race, there had to be evidence of an "invidious, class-based animus" by the perpetrators against the victims. In this case the perpetrators were OR and similar groups, and the victims were women seeking abortions, as well as the clinics and their staffs. The central legal question became: Are these extremist anti-abortion groups acting with an "invidious, class-based animus" against women when they block clinics or is their animus directed just at abortion and not at women?

At the time that Bray was being heard by the Supreme Court, there was an epidemic of blockades and attacks on abortion clinics. Yet the United States filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief on the side of the extremists, arguing that the KKK Act should not apply to them because the protesters were opposed to abortion, not to women. The court agreed.
Really? Who else can become pregnant and choose to have an abortion? Who are the people deciding that they don't want to be pregnant anymore? Who are the people wanting to enter the clinic and obtain its services? Who are the people entering these clinics who are specifically demonized and slandered with hateful slurs such as "whore--who is bound for Hell", "babykilling bitch", "sinful slut who should have kept her damn legs closed," by these anti-choice extremists? Who are the people who these extremist scream and threaten as they leave clinics? Yes, that's right. There is no misogyny with these "pro-lifers". They love women. *cough*And controlling, terrorizing, and shaming them too!*cough* In fact it's never about hurting the women--it's about protecting the babies. (and I suppose protecting women from themselves, because women just don't know any better about their own bodies and their own lives) Besides, once a woman becomes pregnant what's the point of even recognizing her as a human being deserving of any civil rights and liberties--or any respectful attention for that matter? But if a woman deviates from the "pro-life" paradigm that pregnancy is something that women should go through and enjoy no matter what......then we finally acknowledge her existence, and damn her for her "slutty, babykilling" deviation.

[...]The case was argued twice. John Roberts argued it the first time. Deciding not to distance the government from the conduct of the extremist groups would have been well within Roberts' purview.[...]
As if Roberts' past legal activities couldn't get even more disturbing. The U.S. filing an amicus on behalf of the anti-choice extremists definitely reminds us where our government stands when it comes to women's right to autonomy, and their right to be protected from these terrorists. Very unsettling. And I suppose if a KKK member bombs an African-American Church, it's not because they're against African-Americans, instead it's because they're against Black Churches, right?