Recently, a draft Supreme Court opinion leaked showing the court may allow states to criminalize reproductive care — some states already have laws criminalizing abortion and more are adding criminal penalties for people seeking to terminate a pregnancy and any providers assisting in the termination of a pregnancy.
Given the court’s 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed a company to refuse to have insurance that provided birth control to its employees, and the reality that Roe v. Wade was decided a mere seven years after the court said married people could not be criminalized for using contraception, it is probable that criminalizing birth control is on the horizon.
The pro-police state movement that at the heart of the “culture wars” is extremely disturbing. This movement is not about stopping abortions, but instead using the power of the state to enforce patriarchal norms.
Another example are the laws banning treatment of trans children. Recently, Alabama passed a law criminalizing supporting trans youth – as in anyone 25 and under – for obtaining gender affirming care or support.
It’s part of a pattern.
At the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement, state legislatures passed laws making it a felony to protest in the streets.
Many of the Republican voter suppression laws carry criminal penalties for voters and election officials who make innocent mistakes.
Despite being wildly imperfect from the start, one core notion at the founding of our democracy was that the role of government was to support liberty and domestic tranquility.
The principal is that the role of government is to make our lives easier. Give us roads. Give us a stable banking system. Do the things that are too difficult to do individually, like regulate food so we can trust the meat and veggies in our grocery store won’t make us sick, or that when we get in a car or a plane, safety standards are maintained.
Wary of state power, the people demanded the inclusion of the bill of rights before ratifying the constitution. They demanded protections against government intrusion on the ability to speak, gather or practice any religious faith. They demanded protections against quartering soldiers, against unreasonable search and seizure and against cruel and unusual punishment. They demanded due process and the right to trial by a jury of their peers in criminal and civil cases.
This is not a nation for tyranny. We can pass the Equal Rights Amendment. We can pass legislation or executive orders requiring every federally funded hospital to provide free and easy access to birth control. We can and must persist.
Read more of the May 18-24, 2022 issue.