Joy Reid: Abortion Laws Sending Women Back to ‘Dark Ages’

Joy Reid devoted a segment of her MSNBC show this morning to attacking recently-enacted state laws on abortion. Reid teased the segment by saying the Christian far-right is trying to “send women back to the Dark Ages . . . turning all of America into Gilead from the Handmaid’s Tale.”

During the ensuing segment, it was suggested that the people enacting these laws have no interest in protecting children, but just want to turn women into pregnancy “vessels.” Dr. Leana Wen, the President of Planned Parenthood, said that the laws are all about “oppression, misogyny, power, and control over women’s bodies.”

One striking thing about this and every other segment on the issue that I’ve seen: Not one person defending Roe makes any serious argument to the effect that the case was rightly decided under the Constitution. They simply can’t. 

The Roe opinion, written by Justice Harry Blackmun, declared that the Constitution created a “fundamental right” to abortion because it was within the “penumbra” of the constitutional right to privacy. Except that the Constitution never spoke of a “right to privacy.” And a penumbra is a shadow. So the “fundamental” right to abortion rests on the shadow of a right that doesn’t exist.

Even an MSNBC legal expert this past week recognized that Roe is “ripe to be overturned” because “even if you are pro-choice, the right to privacy [upon which Roe was based] does not exist either in the history or the text of the Constitution.” And Joe Scarborough noted that even his liberal constitutional law professor acknowledged that Roe was “a terribly written case, [whose] logic is baffling at times.”

Today’s segment also falsely suggested that overturning Roe would result in abortion being banned nationally. It would do no such thing. The effect of overturning Roe would be to return to the individual states the right to legislate on the subject of abortion, as they did for roughly the first 200 years of our nation.

Note also Reid’s claim that Planned Parenthood is not “an electoral organization.” Sure, but it’s PAC certainly is, and in the last electoral cycle precisely . . . 100% of its campaign contributions were made to Democrats. 

Here’s the transcript.

MSNBC
AM Joy
5/18/19
10:01 am EDT

JOY REID: Trump and Mitch McConnell’s tag-team effort to stack the courts, including the Supreme Court, with right-wing judges has made the Christian far-right so confident, they’re pushing through laws in multiple states under Republican control that essentially send women back to the Dark Ages, forcing them to give birth even when impregnated by a rape or incest. All in hopes of sending a case to the Republican-majority Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Essentially, turning all of America into Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale.

. . .     

REID: As we speak, the American religious right is waging an all-out assault on women’s rights. Essentially, attempting to reduce women to little more than vessels for pregnancy, subject to the complete control of the state once they become pregnant, even by rape or incest. The states implementing those forced-birth laws want to take their theocratic ideas national, hoping that the draconian laws, passed overwhelmingly by male legislators, would lead to a Supreme Court case that overturns Roe v. Wade. 

. . . 

REID: And Joyce, I think what people worry about now is that Donald Trump, who does not seem to be particularly religious himself, has essentially said to the religious far-right: you can have the courts; you can have an overturning of Roe v. Wade. He doesn’t particularly care. And he’s given Mitch McConnell, empowered him, to place on the courts, including the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade overturning judges, extreme religious right people . . . And to go to Dr. Wen, and of course Planned Parenthood is not, you’re not an electoral organization, but the reality is that Planned Parenthood is targeted by these religious-right figures as sort of a Murder, Inc. in their minds. 

DR. LEANA WEN: What they’re showing is that nothing that they’re doing is about medicine, or science, or protecting women, children, and families. Actually, it’s all about oppression, misogyny, control, and power over women’s bodies and our rights.   

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