Two opinions emerge on Supreme Court leak
Nathan Wilson | Reporter
A draft opinion of the Supreme Court’s majority view leaked in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggests the court will overturn a precedent older than most women of child-bearing age.
For some, the judgment is decades overdue. Kandace Landreneau is one of them. She is the College Director of Louisiana Right to Life. “My role is to empower pro-life students to support pregnant and parenting students at their university by connecting them with resources,” she says.
“If the unborn was not a human life, then abortion would be totally fine,” Landreneau says before turning to the belief at the heart of her movement. “Abortion is never justifiable because the result is the killing of an innocent human being every single time.”
Others are opposed to seeing abortion’s protected status overturned. One Natchitoches resident, a feminist activist since the 1960s, remembers the era before Roe v. Wade struck down many restrictions on abortion. She wished to share her views, but like Roe v. Wade plaintiff Norma McCorvey, she didn’t want to use her real name for fear of retribution. “I could give you the names of 30 women who would say pretty much everything I’ve said who are also Natchitoches residents of various ages,” she says.
In her youth, the feminist advocated for women’s access to abortion. She explains her stance. “What it comes down to is the issue of body autonomy.” She illustrates her point with an example. “(If) your sibling is going to die if you don’t give them a kidney, no law on the books can make you give up that kidney, yet they’re forcing women to (have a baby)” she says. “Even the dead have more rights because they can’t harvest your organs unless you’ve signed a document.”
The “my body, my choice” line is familiar to Landreneau. “If you’re arguing that all women have a right to bodily autonomy, I’d agree with you, especially since I’m a woman, but bodily autonomy is not absolute.” She counters the argument. “If anyone says the unborn is a ‘part’ of the woman’s body, that is inaccurate. It’s a completely different entity with its own genetic code, DNA, blood type, body parts, sex, etc.,“ she says. “I have a right to my body, but I can’t use my body to hurt someone else.”
Landreneau attacks another element of the pro-choice stance, that an embryo or fetus isn’t a person. “We’re all “clumps of cells,” but what (they’re) arguing is that it’s something like a tumor or skin cells. No, a tumor or skin cells are part of the person’s body. The unborn embryo is not part of the mother’s body,” she insists. “This argument is just an attempt to dehumanize the unborn.”
The feminist rejects the characterization. “The sentimental idea that every little fetus is going to be some healthy, smiling child who is loved is simply not true,” she says. “To say you’re pro-life when all it means is you want every fetus to be born is simply denying the reality: infants die for multiple reasons. They die from water that can’t be drunk. They die from abuse from parents who didn’t want them. They die from malnutrition,” she says. “There is more childhood hunger (in the U.S.) now than there is in any other developed country.”
”What is the point of going through a labor to give birth to a child that will live for three or four days?” the feminist asks. She points to how newborns are treated. “With infants they just don’t feed them if they can’t live, if they’re born without a brain, or if they’re born without certain organs. They just let them starve to death.” She emphasizes the anguish some women face. “Many women who choose to get abortions didn’t want them. They wanted a child, but things have gone wrong.”
Landreneau sees college-aged women experience a different source of anguish. “I have met many women who were about to have an abortion and never once have I met someone who was excited about it,” she says. She meets women who feel stigmatized and shamed into seeking abortions. “Women tell me ‘I have no other choice, I have to do this.’ That’s horribly heartbreaking,” she says. “Women shouldn’t feel like they have to give up school or work to have a baby, that is not women’s empowerment!”
The feminist almost appears to agree, “If you’re in doubt about whether you should (have an abortion), then you shouldn’t do it, but if you understand that you cannot afford another child, if you can’t take the time out of your career and live the dream you wanted, if you don’t think you’re healthy enough to give birth. If you’re in a relationship you think is ending and you want to get out of this without any connections to the person, whatever your reasons are they should be your reasons.”
Going a step further, the feminist singles out parents. “For teenagers who get pregnant, some of those teenage girls are beaten bloody when their parents find out that they’re pregnant. That should be a private matter between the girl and her physician,” she says. “If the girl has loving, accepting parents she will share that with her parents. If she understands that her parents will be violent she will not share.”
Landreneau frequently engages with women who profess they would never have an abortion, but say they don’t want to impose their beliefs on others. When she encounters this, she turns their arguments against them. “I say “You’re personally pro-life because you believe the unborn is a baby and abortion kills that baby, but you’re ok with others doing that.” She indicates it’s a straightforward decision. “Truth is not relative, and the responsibility to defend human life isn’t something we can abdicate.’”
“Women deserve better than abortion, and I’m going to do everything I can to help them once Roe V. Wade is overturned.” Landreneau says. She points toward Texas, where the law has been described as deputizing ordinary citizens against abortion providers. “We’ve already seen a tremendous drop off in abortion rates in Texas when their 6-week abortion ban became law,” she says.
The feminist is worried about a bill recently withdrawn from the Louisiana Legislature that would have classified abortion as homicide. “The laws that now, in Louisiana, they’re trying to pass, they couldn’t even abort an ectopic pregnancy,” she says. “An infant can not come to full growth in a fallopian tube.”
Based on personal experience, the feminist argues women will face worse care if abortion is banned. “As someone who had an ectopic pregnancy, if I had not had an MRI scan that induced an abortion; either an ectopic pregnancy dissolves in the early stages or it rots in the fallopian tube, and can lead to sepsis and you die,” she says.
“This law is unfair because it only affects poor women,“ says the feminist. She argues a ban in Louisiana won’t stop women from having abortions. “Any middle class or upper middle class woman will simply fly either to a state where it’s legal or (abroad).” She also sees a geographic divide. “Women up north, nothing’s going to change for them, especially on the East Coast or the West Coast. Those women are going to have all the rights they’ve always had, but again, southern women won’t.”
“Louisiana is ready to be abortion free and we look forward to the day all unborn lives and women are protected from the brutality of abortion.” Landreneau says. She criticizes how Roe v. Wade was used to enshrine abortion into law. “The Constitution has never recognized a right to abortion and its time we uphold the Constitution’s blatant protection of our inalienable right to ‘Life.’” She expects banning abortion will all but end the practice. “The idea that women won’t choose life when abortion becomes illegal is absurd,” she says.
Landreneau questions the assertion women will seek dangerous, illegal abortions. “Have we seen women dropping dead from back-alley abortions in Texas? No. This argument is nothing but fear mongering,” she says. “Abortion ends an innocent and defenseless human life through violent means and hurts women in the process.” She points to the risk abortion drugs and procedures pose. “The idea that abortion is safe is incredibly inaccurate, especially when it comes to chemical abortions. One need only to do a few Google searches to find women who have died from these pills or have become infertile.”
“I’ve lived long enough that I remember the days when women did self-induced abortions.” The feminist recounts. “A friend of mine who’s my age never really got to know his mother because she died when he was three because she had too many children. They lived in Chicago, and she got a medical student to do a back-alley abortion,” she says. “Another friend of mine, the woman who adopted him could not have children because she also had a butcher shop abortion and could no longer have children.“ She is pessimistic about the future. “It’s just going to mean so many more women die,” she says. “To add insult to injury, right now in the United States maternal mortality rates are going up and up because hospitals are expensive and many women aren’t getting adequate prenatal care, their blood pressure spirals, they give birth and they die.”
“There’s a stereotype of every woman who gets an abortion is a sixteen year old high school girl which is simply not true,” the feminist says. ”Most women who get abortions already have children and cannot afford more.” She moves to a worst-case scenario. “I’m one of the very lucky women I know who’s never been raped, but I can not imagine how horrid it would be to have to bear the child of the kind of monstrous person who would rape a woman,” she says. “Can you imagine how they feel when they find out they’re pregnant?”
Landreneau poses her own questions. “Does that change the fact that she was raped? No. Ok, what are we fixing? How are we helping anything? How does killing a life undo anything?” she asks. “I have friends who have been raped. I have friends who’s conception was the product of rape. I can’t look at them when I see them and say ‘You shouldn’t be alive.’” She sums up her argument. “The circumstances surrounding you coming into being doesn’t change your humanity, value or purpose.”
Two opinions emerge on Supreme Court leak