Today is the 33rd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, in which the US Supreme Court, headed by Warren Burger, ruled that a woman, in consultation with her doctor, has a constitutionally protected right to an abortion, before fetal viability.
The Warrantless Wiretapper who presided over 152 state executions while governor of Texas (more than any other governor in recent history), and who's decision to launch a war of regime change in Iraq (also known as Iraqmire) is directly responsible for the deaths of over 2,200 US and coalition servicepeople and tens of thousands of Iraqis noncombatants, proclaimed today "National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2006."
According to the highly respected Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortion providers has fallen, from around 2400 in 1992 to around 1800 in 2000 (under a pro-choice president, no less), and states enacted 52 laws restricting abortion in 2005 alone. Many states have also seen a drop in abortion providers, and there are populous counties in some red states that have no abortion provider at all.
Correlative with this, Feministing.com points to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics that "about 14 percent of recent births to women 15-44 years of age in 2002 were unwanted at time of conception, an increase from the 9 percent seen for recent births in 1995," and that "61 percent of women 25-44 years of age with less than a high school degree reported having had an unintended birth (either mistimed or unwanted at time of conception), compared with 18 percent of women with college degrees."
Meanwhile, right-wing federal appeals court judge Samuel A. Alito, who has gone on the record with his staunch opposition to the Roe v. Wade decision, is encountering stiffening Democratic opposition to his nomination, with Democratic 2nd in command Senator Dick Durbin refusing to rule out a filibuster. The New York Times ("Judge Alito's Radical Views") and New Republic ("Restraining Order") are running strong editorials opposing the confirmation of Alito, who managed to say about as little that was relevant to his potential job as possible during his recent Senate dumbshow, with the complete complicity of the Senate Republicans and the mainstream media, while conveniently suffering attacks of Alzheimers concerning his membership in the ultraconservative, retrograde Concerned Alumni of Princeton.
While I think there may be enough Democratic votes to sustain a filibuster, the real danger would come immediately upon Alito's, or a similar Borkian originalist's ascension to the nation's highest court, particularly on the issue of women's rights, personal bodily autonomy, and possibly contraceptive rights. It would only take Anthony Kennedy, the Roman Catholic, Republican jurist appointed by Ronald Reagun, to join confirmed right-wingers Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Alito or someone like him (all men, no less) in overturning Roe; despite Kennedy's recent judicial decisions falling towards the left side of the legal and ideological spectrum (to the utter enragement of extremists like Phyllis Schlafly and Tom DeLay), there is no guarantee that he would not revert to or vote to enable the far-right quorum.
No one should forget that before Roe v. Wade, as the decision's legal text enumerates, almost every US state (as well as many US territories and the Kingdom of Hawai'i) had enacted anti-abortion laws, some dating as far back as the 1820s and 1830s. Despite the availability of prophylactics, spermicides and contraceptives, and prescription abortifacient drugs, women across the country still need access to safe and legal abortion services. Were Roe to be abolished--even in spite of the basic fact that a majority of Americans support the legal right to abortions--there's no guarantee that many states would not enact anti-abortion laws, let alone enact pro-choice legislation. As we know historically, the absence of pro-choice laws, doesn't guarantee no abortions, it ensures that there will be unsafe, illegal ones.
If you believe in women's right to choose, by which I mean the right of access to legal abortions, the right of women to have abortions without criminal penalties, the right of doctors or other qualified and licensed healthcare providers to provide safe abortions without criminal penalties, and the right to personal bodily autonomy, please contact your elected officials, especially your US Senators, who are set to vote on Samuel Alito, and let them know what you're thinking.