fb-pixel Skip to main content

After court arguments, the abortion debate is striking a lot of nerves

Antiabortion and abortion rights advocates protest outside the Supreme Court on Dec. 1.Melina Mara/The Washington Post

A sharp response to Justice Barrett’s question about adoption

During the Supreme Court hearings on the Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks, Justice Amy Coney Barrett brought up the “safe haven” laws that allow a woman to give up her child for adoption after birth (“Amy Coney Barrett’s focus on ‘safe haven’ laws during Supreme Court abortion arguments draws attention, scrutiny,” BostonGlobe.com, Dec. 3). Specifically, she asked why the safe haven laws “don’t take care of that problem” — the “problem” being state-enforced pregnancy.

Barrett makes it seem so easy to give up a child for adoption. She glosses over the nine months of enforced pregnancy, a physically and emotionally taxing time for any woman, followed by the emotional trauma of giving up a child.


Really, is she so out of touch that she can’t see the answer?

Safe haven laws “don’t matter” in the argument before the court in this case for the following:

▪ The 12-year-old victim of incest.

▪ Any rape victim.

▪ The woman working to put food on the table for her children while suffering exhaustion, nausea, and the pain of knowing she cannot afford another child.

▪ The woman in an abusive relationship.

▪ The woman who has had difficult, perhaps life-threatening pregnancies and cannot face another one.

▪ Any woman who wants to choose when or if she bears a child.

That’s why, Justice Barrett.

Pat Yingling


The writer is a member of the Bad Old Days Posse, a group of women sharing their experiences of abortion before Roe v. Wade.

It’s all part of a cruel conservative philosophy, from birth onward

With conservative justices decisively in the majority of today’s Supreme Court, the constitutional rights of women are at grave risk (“Reshaped court seems ready to roll back abortion rights,” Page A1, Dec. 2). These justices appear open to reverse the precedent set by Roe v. Wade regarding a woman’s right to decide which health decision is best for her life circumstances. Such a decision would be consistent with the conservative philosophy of the elected officials who proposed and approved the justices’ nominations.


Many of these same officials have opposed not only abortion but also federal policies that help those who are born, such as Aid to Families With Dependent Children, child nutrition, child care, and shelters for battered kids. This conservative view was best described by former US representative Barney Frank in 1981, who said that for them, “life begins at conception and ends at birth.”

If the court succeeds as it appears inclined, will it, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked last week, “survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”

David Greenfield


There’s a ‘stench,’ all right, and it’s in the rhetoric

The Dec. 3 op-ed by retired judge Nancy Gertner (“The stench at the Supreme Court”) was objectionable on many points.

She began by quoting Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s decrying the politicization of the Supreme Court, but by that very quote, the justice would seem to be the first to play the political card. With this expression, she is placing a poison pill into the putative reversal seen for Roe v. Wade. The fact that 15 or 13 justices since Roe have reaffirmed it is beside the point; no number of justices makes them infallible.

Gertner’s diatribe against the originalist interpretation of the Constitution just means that she thinks she’s smarter than James Madison et al. When Gertner puts the words “The Creator” in scare quotes, she betrays an agnostic secularist bias. The 150-year-old denial of a woman’s right to be a lawyer can be distinguished from a gestating baby’s right to life: The first is the right to do something, the second is the right to be something, that is, to be alive.


The reversal of Roe v. Wade would just be a return to the federalism built into our Constitution; let the states decide, as they did pre-1973.

Joseph M. Hennessey


In debate over rights, what about the men?

The debate about abortion rights is really a debate about equal rights, men to women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, among others, spelled it all out in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. Inspired by the abolitionists’ theory of “human freedom,” they produced the “Declaration of Sentiments” with the intent of passing legislation that assured all women the same “inalienable rights” as had been granted to men. For women now fighting against a woman’s right to choose (Supreme Court justices included) and for women who have yet to take a stand about who is able to make decisions for them about their own bodies, let the words of that document be a reminder, or a source of education.

As for the men out there, it is time to wake up, speak up, stand up, and take responsibility for their part in the reproductive process. Where are all the laws holding them responsible for the lives they help create or the women they impregnate? So the women fall in line at abortion clinics, representing only half the participants in the creation of their fetuses, and try to ignore the men who are there calling them “baby killers.” There is nothing equal here.


If Roe v. Wade is overturned, women will go back to bearing babies they are not ready to have, who may carry the memory of rape, may risk harming their health, may cause them further financial distress, or may need more love or care than these women can give. And men will accept the silent permission they have to be unaccountable.

Linda Harding