His writings fuel the biggest threat to abortion rights in a generation.
October 10, 2014 4:59 PM   Subscribe

 
Watch him steamroll over decades of abortion rights with this one weird trick!
posted by adipocere at 5:08 PM on October 10, 2014 [25 favorites]


Makes sense, in a twisted way. We already ascribe personhood to corporations, so why not do the same for a blob of cells. Maybe the trick to fight Parker is to note that those cells are more like a trip back along the evolutionary path, than like anything truly human. Courts have already succeeded at putting down challenges to evolution by the creationist crowd – maybe those arguments could be extended here.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 5:09 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I heard a journalist talking to Terry Gross the other day about Rand Paul and his support for a personhood amendment. His conclusion was that it would gain him votes in the primary but seriously backfire in the general election when it became clear that this would make most popular birth control methods illegal. That said, I can see there being states where this would fly.
posted by rikschell at 5:12 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


It always seems to be the same argument: the unborn have rights that the government must respect, but actual living people can't be supported by that same government. So, bring on the kids, but fuck 'em once they're here. There's a reason we should be wary of conflating religion and government.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:29 PM on October 10, 2014 [51 favorites]


Texas-based ministry whose founder was also a leader in the Christian Patriarchy movement, which preaches, among other things, that husbands should vote for their wives.
When I initially read this, I'm like hell yeah! If you're wife is running for office, you should totally vote for her - it'd be unreasonable not to!

Then I realized it meant something entirely different.

Sigh.
posted by el io at 5:33 PM on October 10, 2014 [95 favorites]


the Christian Patriarchy movement, which preaches, among other things, that husbands should vote for their wives.

If my wife ran for office, I'd certainly…

Oh.
posted by zamboni at 5:34 PM on October 10, 2014 [35 favorites]


How to dismantle Roe v. Wade:

1) Keep the Supreme Court in a state where Kennedy is the swing vote.
2) Wait.
posted by delfin at 5:42 PM on October 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


>Texas-based ministry whose founder was also a leader in the Christian Patriarchy movement, which preaches, among other things, that husbands should vote for their wives.

When I initially read this, I'm like hell yeah! If you're wife is running for office, you should totally vote for her - it'd be unreasonable not to!

Then I realized it meant something entirely different.


Yeah, that's actually a felony in my state.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:49 PM on October 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Roe v. Wade is at root a matter of what you believe. Reason doesn't obtain.
posted by vapidave at 5:52 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Pro Choice Jurists HATE Him!
posted by graphnerd at 5:53 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seriously though, is there any outlet for journalism that can resist Buzzfeed headlines?
posted by graphnerd at 5:54 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah this judge hasn't "figured out how to dismantle Roe v Wade". He's using the same legal arguments that have been used since Roe v Wade, albeit maybe a little more nuanced. Law isn't a fucking magical incantation, there's no weird trick. That way lies freemen on the land.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:54 PM on October 10, 2014 [20 favorites]


Maybe take a page from the anti gay marriage playbook and say he's paving the way for giving birth to other species.
posted by rhizome at 6:38 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hmm... Yeah, come to think of it "Embryos have rights" sounds like a slippery slope to a radical vegetarian agenda. (you know, meat is murder and all).
posted by el io at 6:41 PM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


I can't even ...

Outlawing abortion while at the same time preaching abstinence and wanting to "protect" the innocent, pure youngsters (who are having sex, who will always be having sex) from the knowledge of the act that comes with knowledge of the prophylactics is crazy.

It has nothing to do with the sanctity of life and everything to do with policing sexuality.
posted by flippant at 6:48 PM on October 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


This is obviously good news for the campaign for personhood for Tommy the Chimp.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:48 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


It has nothing to do with the sanctity of life and everything to do with policing sexuality.

I think you mean women. It has everything to do with policing and controlling women.
posted by space_cookie at 7:01 PM on October 10, 2014 [40 favorites]


Texas-based ministry whose founder was also a leader in the Christian Patriarchy movement, which preaches, among other things, that husbands should vote for their wives.

When I initially read this, I'm like hell yeah! If you're wife is running for office, you should totally vote for her - it'd be unreasonable not to!

Then I realized it meant something entirely different.

Sigh.


When I first read it, it seemed pretty weird, but then again, a lot of things that these fringe Christian movements do ARE really weird so I usually just shrug it off and keep reading.

Until I read the el io's comment and had to stop and really think about it until I realized I also had read it wrong. I mean, STILL FUCKING WEIRD but also a highly entertaining example of bad phrasing.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:06 PM on October 10, 2014


We already ascribe personhood to corporations, so why not do the same for a blob of cells.

Maybe what we really need to do is make it Zygote Jones, Inc. (IANAL)
posted by Room 641-A at 7:09 PM on October 10, 2014


Law isn't a fucking magical incantation, there's no weird trick. That way lies freemen on the land.

Totally unrelated to abortion rights: didn't 401(k)'s get invented because someone found a tax loophole? I always thought it was a weird origin story for something that many people rely on for retirement.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:17 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Next up for personhood? Fruit flies! After that? I don't know. Bricks or something.
posted by brundlefly at 7:23 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


The truth is, depending on the particular court hearing the case, the law may or may not work like a magic incantation. There's no one, consistent legal philosophy everyone's required to apply, so some decisions kind of do seem to apply magical thinking. Like the judge who ruled against my grandmother's (civil) claim to my grandfather's heavy equipment after his death on the basis of the legal principle "what do you need it for?" a close-cousin to the age old doctrine of "finders, keepers."
posted by saulgoodman at 7:25 PM on October 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also, it's pretty magical that having a badge can prevent perjury claims against you (a badge is like a magic talisman). I think the law has a lot of magic in it.
posted by el io at 7:31 PM on October 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


Makes me want to get a uterus transplant just so I can have an abortion.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:31 PM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


We just have to incorporate our uteruses and they'll be free from all interference. I wish I was saying this ironically. Assigning personhood to women is apparently not enough somehow.
posted by bleep at 7:41 PM on October 10, 2014 [10 favorites]


I don't know what to do anymore. People like this have power. People who take a look at the first amendment, proceed to piss on it and then rule from their faith. And the body politic, rather than look at what's right, proceed to rubber stamp them because god forbid a slut exists or a black person get a fucking dollar they didn't "deserve".

All we can do is watch as assholes like these keep chipping away. Ruining lives for no other reason than spite and a misguided sense of moral superiority. And there's absolutely nothing we can do other than wait and hope.
posted by Talez at 7:46 PM on October 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't understand how such a person gets to such an eminent position in the law and then maintains it. While all judges have biases and flaws, aren't they supposed to work against them, to act and seem impartial and dispassionate? At least that's how it (almost always) works in my country.
posted by wilful at 7:48 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how such a person gets to such an eminent position in the law and then maintains it.

My best guess, from the article: "Once elected..."
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:00 PM on October 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


I don't understand how such a person gets to such an eminent position in the law and then maintains it.

Alabama.
posted by el io at 8:24 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


OK, I guess I had heard that you elect judges, but I'm still having trouble processing that fact. Elected doesn't just mean via popular vote. You mean to say that two candidates for the judiciary run in a public election whereby regular enfranchised citizens get to choose between them? The mind boggles that this is a system any modern country would have. Is this just for petty courts, how far up does it go?

Sorry, a derail.
posted by wilful at 8:30 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


How judges get into office varies from state to state.

NYTimes on the subject:
Nationwide, 87 percent of all state court judges face elections, and 39 states elect at least some of their judges, according to the National Center for State Courts.
posted by el io at 8:39 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


It tends to be that state judges are elected (even up to the state Supreme Court level). Sometimes they are appointed but there is an automatic referendum on whether or not to retain them. Federal judges are always appointed.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:39 PM on October 10, 2014


This seems like an excellent place to mention Katha Pollit's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. There's probably not a whole lot in it that I haven't read, but it sounds like a lot of convenient facts in one place.
posted by emjaybee at 8:40 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


How to dismantle Roe v. Wade:

That's one way. The most likely way is:

November 2014: Republicans win majorities in House and Senate

January 2015: Republicans impeach Obama

Summer 2015: Republicans impeach Biden.

Fall 2015: President Pro Tem Boehner introduces a slate of anti-abortion legislation.

2017-2020 President Cruz selects Supreme Court Justice(s)

2018-2020 Supreme Court defines personhood as beginning from conception.
posted by happyroach at 8:50 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Even if personhood begins at the twinkle in your father's eye, I still don't understand how the personhood of a clump of cells trumps my personhood.
posted by bleep at 8:53 PM on October 10, 2014 [23 favorites]


I'm sorry, you seem to have put "most likely way" in the same train of thought as "the Republicans will get 67 Senate votes, including at least six or seven Democratic Senators, to vote for conviction of both Obama and Biden." If the Repubs do get a Senate majority this fall, things will get ugly, but Obama will have to defecate on an infant on live TV to be removed -- let alone Diamond Joe.

The hard right loves thumping their chests about impeachment for Obama's perceived crimes against America, but there are many, many reasons why they haven't pulled the trigger on it, and the simplest is that a supermajority is a very high wall to climb.

As for "President Cruz," if you're counting that as likely you may have eaten some improperly cooked chicken or something and should consult your physician.
posted by delfin at 9:06 PM on October 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


This article has a very strange view of how laws get made, and overturned, and how much influence this particular judge can have. The personhood amendment they mention in Colorado has been on the ballot several times already, and has never gotten over 30% of the vote. I know many conservative, pro-life folks who oppose personhood amendments because of the crazy unintended consequences (pregnant women get to use the HOV lane! Miscarriages are manslaughter!), and the number of super pro-life people in america is going down. A personhood amendment can only become law if it gets voted into law, and that's no where near close to happening in any state, let alone nationally.

Then the article talks about how this judge is pretty loose with interpretation, precedent, and listening to other judges, but also somehow assumes that this man's word is going to override every other judge in the country. To the extent that this man is able to ignore other rulings, other judges (except for those judges underneath him, ruling about the exact issues on which he is opining) can ignore his rulings. He's fringe. His rulings provide great fodder for other judges that are already inclined to believe the way he believes and rule the way he rules, but those rulings aren't going to sway other judges.

The legal system isn't one in which this guy can overturn Roe v. Wade. He's a shitheel, but he and his movement aren't as powerful as this article makes em seem.
posted by DGStieber at 9:07 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sixteen or seventeen Democratic Senators, excuse me, correcting above. As a card-carrying liberal, I'm used to feeling like the Repubs have 60 already.
posted by delfin at 9:09 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Have you guys forgotten that Clinton was impeached and he was not forced out of office? And his popularity ratings went up?

I dare the Republicans to impeach Obama. I double dog dare you.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:11 PM on October 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


"Totally unrelated to abortion rights: didn't 401(k)'s get invented because someone found a tax loophole?"

I might be shamefully wrong here but I think 401(k)'s had existed for a while but became popular because of leveraged buy outs. Large corporations would have a lot of money in their retirement plans. You could buy the company and use the money from the retirement plan to finance the purchase of the company. This lead to what is called "poison pill" strategy whereby a company would acquire debt in order to not be an attractive target for purchase.

The advantage of a 401(k) is that the pension is attached to the person as opposed to a corporation so that it is not subject to adverse utilization by investors.

It's entirely possible I conflated two or more influencing factors.

I welcome any correction or clarification.
posted by vapidave at 10:38 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Texas-based ministry whose founder was also a leader in the Christian Patriarchy movement, which preaches, among other things, that husbands should vote for their wives.

When I initially read this, I'm like hell yeah! If you're wife is running for office, you should totally vote for her - it'd be unreasonable not to!

Then I realized it meant something entirely different.


Could someone please explain to this non-American what "vote" means in this context?

Also, could someone explain why you seem to gave so many nutty as a fruitcake judges, and yet in Europe we don't have half as many?

Also, do they have actual bible verses to back up their claim that abortion is wrong, or is it just "its gods new creation" nonsense?
posted by marienbad at 10:59 PM on October 10, 2014


Could someone please explain to this non-American what "vote" means in this context?

Vote means "cast a ballot". It's a poorly written sentence, but it means that a woman should not vote, and that a husband should be the only one to cast a vote in an election. In this context, "for" means "on behalf of" not "in support of". The husband should cast the vote, and his vote should represent the singular, cohesive, political will of the family.

Also, could someone explain why you seem to [h]ave so many nutty as a fruitcake judges, and yet in Europe we don't have half as many?

This is a little up for debate, there are nutty judges in europe, too.

But no, we Americans probably have more obviously nutty judges. Here's my attempt at basic comparative legal analysis:

It comes down to the differences in legal systems, and the American 2 party system. Most European countries have "Civil Law" which means there is a code of laws, and the judge exists to decide whether or not the facts of what happened violate the law on the books. There's not a lot of room for interpretation there.

America has laws of this sort, but a large part of American Law is the Common Law, or Case Law. This just means that past cases determine the law. Things like "criminal negligence" or "Assault" or "Battery" are not defined by a legislature, they're defined by legal history. So judges have a lot more room to interpret things, especially in cases where new or contentious changes are taking place. And judges have incentives to rule in certain ways if they're strongly political, because their decisions are actually making the law in this case.

American political power swings back and forth between the poles, and whichever side is in power appoints or elects judges that they believe will make laws that they like. So that also favors "crazy", or at least politically minded judges.

----

Also, America's enormous, and there's tons of people in the legal system. There's a trial courts and then two levels of appellate courts in all 50 states, and there's the same system mirrored for Federal issues, as well as individual courts to decide administrative issues, tax issues, security issues, etc. There's a lot of judges, so even if the %age of "nutty" is not above normal, the sheer number of "nutty" judges will be extreme.

posted by DGStieber at 11:27 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


DGSteiber, that's no sort of an explanation at all. There are very many common law countries, yet mostly these coutrnies avoid nutty judges or undue politicisation (except for those countries where the rule of law is weak)/ You couldn't say the UK, Canada, Australia have half as terrible a judiciary.
posted by wilful at 4:12 AM on October 11, 2014


Wilful, my personal comparative constitutional view is twofold:

1) The US uses a presidential system, which trends towards antagonism. Compare it to a parliamentary system, where the leader of the executive is also the leader of the legislature - in the presidential system, the legislators (politically) need visibility, but don't get as much blame for the country doing poorly.

2) Much more importantly, the US constitution is oooooooooooold. It's so old that things like judicial review wasn't written in, but had to be fought over. As a result of its age, it is missing a lot of features that we've come to expect in a modern constitution. Specifically, my hobby-horse is always that it's missing any form of reasonable limits test, which then requires the court to kind of go big or go home - there are fewer mechanisms to strike down laws by saying "yes it's in a category of law that you can make, but it ends up hurting people way more than helping" (to paraphrase). As such, to strike down a law courts have to stretch their interpretation or hide what they're doing, which is harmful for later cases.

3) The US is probably more politically religious than most similarly-situated countries. By politically religious, I mean that religion plays a bigger part in politics, rather than just being where one goes on Sundays.

If I had to rank them, it would be 2 super-far out in front, and then probably 1 then 3.
Also sorry for saying twofold and having three arguments: as a canadian lawyer, the three-part test is ingrained in me and I had to fill my quota.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:29 AM on October 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


There's nothing really new here. "Life begins at conception" has been the mantra of the anti-abortion faction since the 1980's.

These types of breathless articles about wedge issues tend to appear around election time to stimulate proponents and opponents to fill the campaign coffers.

Politicians love wedge issues.
posted by mygoditsbob at 6:53 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


The day the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade is the day the Republican party is no longer a national political party but a regional right-wing populist party dominated by radical christian white-supremacists.

The base of the current Republican party will work hard to make sure this doesn't happen. If they fail it will mean the Democrats will be the sole franchise representing Wall Street.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:01 AM on October 11, 2014


There are very many common law countries, yet mostly these coutrnies avoid nutty judges or undue politicisation (except for those countries where the rule of law is weak)/ You couldn't say the UK, Canada, Australia have half as terrible a judiciary.

Would you really know? Look at the rate of violence in the US vs. the other common law countries. Civil society here is really stressed at the local level. Have you ever been to Alabama? Or New England outside of Boston? New York outside of New York City?

The roots of radical christian politics in the US aren't that different than say the Taliban in Afghanistan. It's a response to the destruction of a society. The courts are the first line of defense for the social order and state power against a whole underclass of people whom society has rendered totally worthless.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:17 AM on October 11, 2014


The day the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade is the day the Republican party is no longer a national political party but a regional right-wing populist party dominated by radical christian white-supremacists.

Isn't it already?

There's nothing really new here. "Life begins at conception" has been the mantra of the anti-abortion faction since the 1980's.

This is both true and underestimates the effectiveness of the idea and the enormous strides social conservatives have made to close the gap on this issue.

Two years ago I got into an argument with my highly educated, intelligent liberal girlfriend at the time over which was in a more precarious state: gay rights or abortion rights. I said abortion rights, and she strongly disagreed. This confused me until I realized that she felt abortion, for her, would never be an option, and as such abortion rights in general fell way down her list of priorities. When I read stories like these I think of that ex. I think of the women and doctors working solitary state clinics, like the one in Mississippi. I think of how social conservatives won the framing debate years ago while progressives deluded themselves into thinking the issue was settled, that they'd won. It depresses the shit out of me.
posted by echocollate at 7:30 AM on October 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's a response to the destruction of a society.

Which society has been destroyed, exactly? Because if it's the one where only straight white men had any value as human beings, I think it's pretty okay that it's been destroyed. Or is in the process of being destroyed, at least.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:19 AM on October 11, 2014


I never get why the rights of pregnant people are so weak that a fetus could have rights that trump. To me granting fetal personhood seems like a slippery slope to mandatory blood, marrow, and organ donation, as in Judith Jarvis Thomson's A Defense of Abortion, where she compares the rights of a fetus to the rights of any other random person who needs your kidneys.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:02 AM on October 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


I never get why the rights of pregnant people are so weak that a fetus could have rights that trump.

Oh people's rights aren't that weak, just those of women: not the same thing at all. It's just one if the major campaigns in the War Against Women.
posted by happyroach at 11:17 AM on October 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't think there's going to be an exception made for pregnant transmen.

(I do get that the same heteropatriarchal view of the world dictates that you can't actually change your assigned gender, but I don't want to perpetuate that view.)
posted by bile and syntax at 11:20 AM on October 11, 2014


"Life begins at conception" has been the mantra of the anti-abortion faction since the 1980's.

And I wish they'd be specific about whether they mean fertilization or implantation.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:26 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


>> Next up for personhood? Fruit flies! After that? I don't know. Bricks or something.

> Tumors. I hope tumors get to be people next. I mean, after fruit flies and bricks.

BRB, got to email Colbert about how to form HeLa, Inc. immortal SuperPAC.

posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 12:55 PM on October 11, 2014




a slippery slope to mandatory blood, marrow, and organ donation

I am rabidly pro-choice and I would support mandatory donation of that nature, actually. At the very least, I would support mandatory organ donation on death.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:51 PM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's going to be an exception made for pregnant transmen.

Oh, they have a very simple view of gender: no matter what you look like or identify as, either you're capable of having babies, or you're a person.
posted by happyroach at 9:07 PM on October 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


a slippery slope to mandatory blood, marrow, and organ donation

I am rabidly pro-choice and I would support mandatory donation of that nature, actually. At the very least, I would support mandatory organ donation on death.


State mandated mandatory tissue donation? No way that could go wrong.
posted by kjs3 at 8:53 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


State mandated mandatory tissue donation? No way that could go wrong.

Nah, it's not mandated for everybody, just those who haven't registered as a member of one of the religions approved for intact burial.
posted by rhizome at 10:28 AM on October 12, 2014


Yeah, I'm of the "you're dead, you don't need your body anymore, and someone else does" school.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:35 AM on October 12, 2014


Also it totally works [pdf] - having a default of "donate", not even mandatory but just opt-out, raises the donation rate by double-digit percentages, sometimes easily 50+%.

Admittedly this is a weird tangent, because we're talking in response to how fetus rights would lead to mandatory donation by essentially saying that mandatory-ish donation is fine, although not trying to use that point to say fetus rights are fine. Like it's ' "A -> B", "No B is not a concern"', which usually is followed by "therefore A is not a concern" but is definitely not the case here. Kind of an interesting thing happening. Maybe just for me.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:46 PM on October 12, 2014 [2 favorites]






« Older behind-the-scenes of nonfiction longform pieces   |   Frontline - Ebola Outbreak Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments