Tuesday, June 03, 2003

With the Bush administration's obsession that no teenager know what a condom is and the single-minded pursuit of abstinence-only education, it's refreshing to read the recent good news for women's reproductive issues.

First, in Florida, the atrocious "Scarlet Letter" law was repealed. For those of you unfamiliar with it, I'll explain, and you'll assume I'm making it up. It's that unbelievable. If a woman decided to put a child up for adoption in Florida, she was first required by law to take out an ad in the local paper or papers where the father or potential fathers of the child might reside. In this ad, she had to list her name, the circumstances of conception (places, dates, times) and all potential fathers. This was designed to prevent paternity suits cropping up in later years. Which I'm sure is a huge problem. All those deadbeat dads suddenly showing up and wanting to play a part in the child's life. There must be, why, nearly tens of twelves of such men. So it's clearly worth publicly humiliating women. To add horrific insult to injury, this requirement also applied to rape victims. That's right, a woman who was raped and decided to bring a child to term had to take out an ad saying "Me: a twenty-something brunette, you: big brutish and stronger than me. Place: the alley behind my workplace. Had a kid, and you have rights of parentage, so ready to start a family?" This is serious stuff, and it is a horror. Again, how often to rapists come looking after their potential offspring and WHAT JUDGE ON THE PLANET would award paternity? We are making policy on these assumptions?

So this vile, vicious, medieval law was repealed, but not by the good graces of Jeb Bush and company. It was decided through court cases, and the judges ruled that the law constitued an unconstitutional violation of the women's privacy. So the law had to be struck down. It should never have existed in the first place, and they estimate that hundreds of women had to place ads, but at least it's gone.

Item 2:
A woman suffering from Down's Syndrome in Florida was raped and impregnated. If her body was even capable of bringing the child to term, it would almost certainly be mentally deficient, and odds are that due to her seizure-prone condition, carrying the child would endanger the life of the mother. Labor would likely kill her. Even so, pro-life groups voiciferously opposed abortion of the fetus. They took it to court to prevent her from going through with the procedure, but it didn't stand up and the judge allowed the abortion. Of course abortion is controversial but if it should be allowed in any instance, I would hope that a mentally retarded rape victim whose life is in danger would qualify.

Item 3:
Finally, today. The Supreme Court denied antiabortion activists' appeal for permission to display "Wanted" posters with pictures and personal information of physicians that will perform abortions. In fact, the Bush administration, in the form of Solicitor General Ted Olson, asked the court to rule that the posters did not qualify as protected speech. Given the nature of the radical, violent fringes of the pro-life movement, it is not unwise to assume that these posters constitute a threat. An antiabortion web-site had posted these pictures, along with the doctors' addresses, and crossed off the names of the murdered doctors. A to-do list of sorts. But it's been ruled a violation of the first amendment, so goodbye to the hit list.

Let's hear it for sanity!


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