Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Less Than A Clump Of Cells

Read the whole thing, as the kids say, but I'll just tersely add that abortion restrictions inevitably place the life of an embryo over the life of the woman carrying it, in the eyes of the law, in practice if not necessarily in theory.
And yet, the legal case of Elizabeth Keye reminds us that women’s struggles over bodily autonomy are at the foundation of our modern political and economic institutions. Racial slavery pitted women’s reproductive capacities against the interest of the state, introducing a conflict between a woman’s identity as a parent and the child’s identity as a commodity—enacting, most brutally and decisively, the notion that the fetus’s worth was paramount, and that the mother’s corporeal integrity was immaterial. The 1662 case should remind us that the founding legislators of this country were erecting a legal system in which, among other things, the expansion of the slave economy rendered women’s reproductive lives as matters of political, legal, and economic intervention. The absence of the right to bodily integrity for the formerly enslaved should have been rectified in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Instead, we have seen the erosion of such claims to autonomy—rooted in the experience of the enslaved—expanding exponentially into the lives of poor and dispossessed Americans across the racial spectrum. The Supreme Court has just put the rights of a fetus above those of the person who carries it.