Nearly 60 years ago, I won my first newspaper writing award for a column about a 16-year-old high school girl who got pregnant and sought a then-legal abortion in Virginia. The Virginia Press Association, in its announcement of the first-place award for features, praised the article for “clearly examining an issue that needed attention.”
Sadly, the girl lost her ability to have children in the future after a mistake by a medical student who botched the abortion in a motel room in Danville.
The Supreme Court, six years later, approved a landmark decision (Roe v. Wade) that prohibited any state from abandoning abortion. The former high-school student from Roanoke was, at the time, in medical school and became a gynecologist.
“The Court’s decision came too late for me,” she told me in 1974, “but maybe I can do my part to make sure it doesn’t happen to others who now have a legal right to obtain an abortion.” She married, and she and her husband adopted two children, one of whom also became a doctor.
I thought about her Friday when the now radically extremist right-wing Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. Two of those extremists won approval from the Senate after lying about their feelings on Roe v. Wade.
“I trusted Justice (Neil M.) Gorsuch and Justice (Brett) Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent, and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans,” Senator Joe Manchin, a deciding Democrat on the confirmation of the justices, said after Friday’s action.
“I feel misled,” says Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who was going to vote against Brett Kavanaugh, another right-winger advocated by the now-disgraced former president Donald Trump.
Notes from Collins and others confirm Kavanaugh’s promise to keep Roe v. Wade in place when he said:
Start with my record, my respect for precedent, my belief that it is rooted in the Constitution, and my commitment and its importance to the rule of law. I understand precedent and I understand the importance of overturning it.
Roe is 45 years old, it has been reaffirmed many times, lots of people care about it a great deal, and I’ve tried to demonstrate I understand real-world consequences. I am a don’t-rock-the-boat kind of judge. I believe in stability and in the Team of Nine.
To echo the words of former Attorney General William Barr, who told Trump that his ludicrous claims that election fraud cost him re-election in 2020, the best word to describe Kavanaugh is “bullshit.”
“I have no respect left for some justices when you consider what they told us in their confirmation hearings,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, also a former Supreme Court clerk. “Their credibility is approaching zero with us, but also with the American people.”
What else should we expect from appointees of a known liar like Trump, who was exposed even further in hearings by the Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot that he promoted in a failed attempt to try and overturn democracy in America.
Trump promised to “reshape” the Supreme Court. Instead, he turned the court into a cramped, twisted morass that is quickly finding questionable ways to put America back into the dark ages.
I emailed the doctor who was a terrified teenager back in the 1960s when I wrote about the butcher who left her permanently damaged in a poorly-performed abortion, back when getting one illegally was the only option.
“I’m numb,” she said in a return email. “This means other young women will face the same dangers and horrors of what we hoped was a closed matter. God help us all.”