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If the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade it will have a major impact in states across the U.S. that have already signaled their intention to restrict or ban abortion. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Michele Goodwin, law professor at the University of California, Irvine and author of "Policing the Womb," join Geoff Bennett to discuss.
If Roe v. Wade is struck down, as a leaked draft memo from the U.S. Supreme Court suggests it could be, it'll have a major impact in states across the country that have already signaled their intention to restrict or ban abortion.
Younger women, those who are low-income and women of color will be the most affected.
Now, as you can imagine, anti-abortion and abortion rights advocates see the outcomes of doing away with Roe very differently.
And joining us to share their views tonight are Samuel Rodriguez. He's an evangelical pastor who is also the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. And Michele Goodwin, law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of "Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood."
Welcome to the both of you.
And, Michele, we will start with you.
In the conservative states that have already limited access to abortion, surveys and studies have shown it's Black and Latina women and low-income women, who already face limited access to health care, who will bear the brunt of it.
So, given that, what is your assessment of Alito's draft opinion?
Michele Goodwin, Author, "Policing the Womb: Invisible Women and the Criminalization of Motherhood": You are absolutely right.
It is Black and brown women and people who are economically vulnerable who will suffer the grave consequences of what potentially could come from the Supreme Court. But it's also people who experienced rape and also incest, that type of sexual violence, who will also suffer, because bans such as S.B.8 in Texas and also the band that is at issue in this case provides no exception for girls who've been raped by uncles, fathers brothers, and none by women who've been raped by strangers or people that they know.
And it is a really glaring omission that we see coming from this particular draft, given that it is a new articulation that we're seeing in abortion bans.
Sam, what about that? Because many of the states that have these bans, to Michele's point, have no exception for rape or incest survivors.
And there are people, even dispassionate voices in this debate, who say that that in particular is cruel, it's degrading, it's inhumane. What do you make of that?
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
The overturning of Roe v. Wade does not, does not ban abortion in any of the 50 states or any of the U.S. territories. It does not. It brings the issue back to local states.
As it pertains to rape and incest, which the Guttmacher Institute, not a conservative think tank or the CDC — I just did my due diligence — 1 percent. And, of course, every case is horrific and tragic — 1 percent rate, 0.5 percent, half of 1 percent, incest.
These cases, I would agree, must be considered by some of the most conservative states placing restrictions. At the end of the day, this issue — I am a pro-lifer from the womb to the tomb, I do believe in the beautiful sanctity and sacredness of life.
However, I do — I don't believe abortion will be made illegal in America. I don't believe that. I do believe the issue has to do with what happens after the first trimester.
The vast majority of Americans are in favor of keeping abortion illegal in the first 12 to 15 weeks maximum; 58 percent opposed it after the 15 weeks. And that's the issue. I think what we're realizing, what we're experiencing is the egregious malfeasance of legislative bodies in California, New York, Virginia, and other states who went to the extreme, hence bringing about the outcome that we consider now to be inevitable.
Michele, I want to ask if you would like to respond to that.
But I also want to draw you out on something that you have said previously. You say: "Abortion bans represent more than isolated state lawmaking or states' rights. They represent an attack on the fundamental principles of liberty, freedom and autonomy."
In what ways?
They bear upon fundamental notions of freedom.
Let's keep in mind that people who were kidnapped and sexually exploited and brought to these lands were forced into coerced reproduction. And we must understand that coerced reproduction, coerced sterilization, coerced now, after abortion bans, all of this is part of a lengthy arc in American history that has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable people in our society, the most vulnerable women in society.
And it's more than ironic that before the United States Supreme Court is a law that's coming out of the state of Mississippi, a state in which there were horrific, horrific legacies of slavery, of Jim Crow, of denying people the right to the ballot, a state in which Fannie Lou Hamer famously talked about being beaten by sheriffs just as she had tried to vote.
It is a state where Black women had to guess how many bubbles on a bar of soap or jelly beans in a jar in order to be able to vote. So, when, in this draft opinion, Justice Alito says, just go out and vote, we must keep in mind those legacies and histories which continue to prevail in states that enact and act upon voter suppression and gerrymandering.
And, Sam, to that point, I want to build on that a bit, because as you describe yourself as being pro-life from womb to tomb, as you know, there's a pattern that so many of these conservative states now that are poised to require women to carry pregnancies to term, many of these same states invest the least in the health and the economic security of expectant mothers and children once they're born.
So how do you explain that paradox?
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez:
I wholeheartedly agree.
The restrictive states regarding abortions must likewise provide health care, child care. It can't just be a rhetorical articulation of a pro-life agenda limited to the baby in the womb. There is, unfortunately, a vestige of hypocrisy in some legislative initiatives.
These states that are restricting, placing guardrails on abortion — and I do agree with many of the guardrails. Again, I'm a pro-lifer from the womb to the tomb from the moment of conception. However, the vast majority of Americans agree that abortion should be kept legal for the first trimester, maximum 15 weeks.
But if you are going to put guardrails and bring this abortion debate issue into the confines of a logical, reasonable, commonsense sort of world view, make sure you provide the necessary infrastructure, be it medical or child care and so forth, and even providing adoption services.
Here's a moment of transparency. Evangelicals, we are pro-lifers. But if all we do is preach pro-life, and we're not providing adoption alternatives, adoption services, if we're not addressing the financial and educational needs of the communities, then I do believe there's a bit of hypocrisy and a lack of a viable continuum.
So, I am the first to confess that. It needs to be something that's practical. This abortion debate, really, it's difficult. We should begin with empathy, empathy for the women who have this very critical decision to make, and empathy for those that really do believe in the sanctity of life.
As we wrap up our conversation, I want to shift our focus quickly to the potential legal ramifications.
President Biden for two days now, two days straight, has made the case that this Alito draft, if the court moves forward with it, it could call into question a number of other issues that are sort of steeped in the same legal foundation about privacy matters.
Take a listen to what he had to say.
President Joe Biden:
What happens if you have — a state changes the law saying that children who are LGBTQ can't be in classrooms with other children? Is that — is that legit under the way the decision is written?
What are the next things that are going to be attacked?
So, Michele, how could protections grounded in a constitutional right to privacy be vulnerable to the same legal argument Alito is making, Justice Alito made in that draft opinion, where he says that they're not deeply rooted in the nation's history and tradition?
Well, that includes contraception. It includes interracial marriage. It includes same-sex marriage. It includes same-sex adoption. It includes many of the areas in which Americans have come to find freedom that was deserved through the Constitution.
And I should also say that, at the backdrop of all of this, we have to pay attention to science and health care. The United States leads the developed world in maternal mortality. Women are 14 times more likely to die by carrying a pregnancy to term in the United States than by having an abortion. And I think that's an important aspect of the conversation that we shouldn't miss.
So Sam, what's your response to that?
President Biden's statement, unfortunately, I can best describe it as horrific.
Justice Alito's decision was explicit. No other, no other case or relevant issue before the court has anything to do with that decision, period. Gay rights will not be taken away. Contraceptive rights will not be taken. It's a straw man's argument.
Samuel Rodriguez and Michele Goodwin, thanks to you both.
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