Sam Alito's press coverage has brought this issue back to the spotlight, though it's likely never far from the minds of those focused on reproductive rights more constantly than the average armchair pundit. Since I tend to hover somewhere in the middle of obsessively pro-choice and politically pragmatic, the topic has been gnawing at me in recent days.
I can't think of a more absurd requirement than spousal notification. I tend to bristle over parental notification laws, but am philosophically more sympathetic to them, remembering full well the grand array of things I deliberately kept from my parents as a teenager. We all know that our teen years bring us closer to psychosis than humans really have any right to be, and the choices we make during those tender years are often guided by logic that makes sense only to rabid monkeys and dung beetles.
Still, like any blanket requirement, parental notification laws fail to consider the girls impregnated by their abusive fathers, step-fathers, mothers boyfriends, etc., and ignores those parents that will evict or abuse their daughters for being sexually active, much less pregnant. These cases are the problem with such laws, and until these cases are addressed by legislative proposals, I will continue to oppose them in toto.
Spousal notification is a whole other ball game, and the scathing condescension dripping from these laws disgusts me. Clearly, the underlying logic is this: "We don't trust you loose, irresponsible women to have any kind of rapport with your husbands, and will assume, henceforth, that if you've not notified him of your intent to abort, it's because you're being a very bad girl."
What the fuck?!? As if it can't be imagined that some husbands, much like the parents described above, will reward their wives' disclosure with cuts, bruises and broken bones. As if we're totally unaware that there are Neanderthals alive and well in America, and that they don't give a rusty fuck about what their wives want, since they are, after all, just chattel. As if it's unimaginable that, in the case of questionable paternity, every single husband on the planet is irretrievably beyond rage-inspired murder. A cursory glance at domestic abuse statistics in this country should put paid to such ridiculous assumptions, but apparently this is irrelevant to the holier-than-thou types like Alito and his ideological buddies.
I don't know about you, but if a wife is seeking an abortion without her husband's knowledge, I'm content to trust that she's got a perfectly good reason for doing so. See, I'm not the kind of arrogant prick that second-guesses her judgment at every turn (or at least until she squeezes out the little munchkin, at which point she's on her own). But this evidently is one of those things that relegates me to the "loony left", since I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to those loose, irresponsible women.
Once again, we see the hypocrisy of conservatives that insist liberals are trying to create a "nanny state", since the right is apparently quite comfortable with regulating conversation between spouses now. I find it morbidly comical that the folks screaming the loudest about the "sanctity of marriage" apparently have no respect for the actual institution. You know, the kind of respect that acknowledges that much of what goes on between a husband and wife is so private and so intimate as to be no one else's business or concern. The kind of respect that concedes that whatever differences they may have between them are between them, and not something that gets discussed around the water cooler like the latest episode of Desperate Housewives.
Alito, Bush, Frist, et al, have already decided, however, to assume the worst and to embed their pessimism into their legislative approach to reproductive rights. What's next? Spousal notification for birth control prescriptions? Or worse, consent? It's one thing to be at an ideological impasse over when life begins, but another thing altogether to be treated like idiot children whose judgment can't be trusted, ever. These boys find it much more preferable to establish draconian laws based in medieval morality, since we are, after all, aiming for the lowest possible common denominator.
I simply cannot respect, or by extension, willingly obey, lawmakers that think I'm a moron that needs to be saved from myself. And when any of us agree to (or fail to oppose) things like spousal notification laws, we're effectively giving our consent to be treated as such.
These incremental restrictions on abortion (or anything else for that matter) need to be framed precisely this way in our rebuttals. We must constantly point out the irony of the relationship between government and the people: At a time when our President is scoring historical lows for "trustworthiness", his GOP buddies are demonstrating that they don't trust the American people well enough to even talk to our own family members, much less appreciate the nuances of domestic and foreign policy. I want to know what, precisely, we did to earn denial of the benefit of the doubt. I want the GOP to explain why, exactly, they feel it's necessary to assume the worst, at every turn, creating ever more repressive policy under the guise of redemption.
But that's just it, isn't it? Plain evidence of the "we're all sinners" mind-set. We're all wicked, corrupted people that need to be Saved. Glory fucking hallelujia.