Ukraine, Abortion, and the USA

By Neera Kuckreja Sohoni

The Biden administration’s anniversary came at a bleak moment with Biden’s personal ranking dramatically declining in polls. Cynics were certain he would seek distractions to sure up his rankings. Only there was a curiosity to know in which arena – domestic or foreign – he would exercise his diversionary option.

Biden first appeared in his aggressive saber-rattling avatar, warning the world against Putin’s evil intent to annex Ukraine with further plans to overtake other surrounding nations. Biden called out Putin as Democracy’s and NATO’s enemy. A largely pliant media was roped in or readily volunteered to help sure up the president’s rating by making Ukraine the focus of 24-hour coverage.

Three months into the conflict, Ukraine’s indomitable spirit seems to hold up in the face of considerable human and material slaughter, leaving Russia in no position so far to call it a day or to claim victory as a trophy.

On the upside, the military-industrial complex once again is happy that billions are being promised and sunk into Ukraine to bail it out of the horror of war and the consequent economic collapse, with the latter affecting not merely the two warring parties but the world at large.

Overall, the diversionary strategy was only partly successful in that it mobilized NATO more or less as one in condemning Putin, but was unable to wean key NATO powers off from heavy dependence on Russian oil. Moreover, in the face of rising oil and commodity prices, the especially affected countries now risk not merely economic slowdown but also the survival of their regimes.

At home, it did evoke awe and admiration for Ukraine’s heroic unyielding determination to stand up to a bully superpower, American public’s poor appetite to send its own to battle for others ensured that Biden’s war could accomplish very little to alter his popularity.

Hence, there was a compulsion to use the domestic diversion option.

Facing a predicted disastrous outcome in the coming mid-term elections, the Biden administration needed a “cause célèbre” around which to mobilize popular rage and garner votes. The combustible issue of abortion came in handy giving Biden and his party another chance to emerge as democracy’s saviors.

Especially with anti-police, “white racism”, and black victimization rhetoric losing its intensity and fading out in voter memory, even causing fatigue and disenchantment among erstwhile enthusiasts, abortion seemed the best hill to fight on.

Thus came the conveniently timed but unprecedented leak of the Supreme Court’s forthcoming Roe v. Wade-related judgment.

Although speculation on who leaked the draft judgment and whether it best serves the mid-term prospects of the democrat, or the Republican Party is ongoing, no one doubts its immense diversionary impact on Biden’s otherwise falling popularity. The rumored source of the leak interestingly includes a person of Indian ethnicity who holds a position at the Court with direct access to the court’s deliberations.

Abortion is contentious as it pits the rights of the mother against her unborn child. The Roe v Wade case arose when a pregnant woman with the listed name Roe, claiming bodily autonomy, appealed against the constitutionality of the Texas Penal Code’s restrictive provisions. The defendant, in that case, was Henry Wade, the district attorney from Dallas, Texas.

In a subsequent case, Planned Parenthood v Casey, 1992, the Court reaffirmed the woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy before viability as the “most central principle” of Roe. It also held that the right to abortion emanated from the right to privacy and personal liberty guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

As leaked by Politico, the current Court’s draft decision attributed to Justice Samuel Alito would suggest that Roe was egregiously wrong and must be overruled. It further suggests that the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.

Instead, it proposes to return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives, leaving it to state legislatures across the US to address abortion as they deem appropriate.

Significantly, overturning both Roe and Casey will make abortion no longer an absolute right unilaterally accruing to the woman, and independent of the state’s right to protect the life of a fetus once it meets the viability threshold.

The outcry against the possibility of Roe being overturned has set fire to pro-women segments of society pitting them against those who are pro-fetus. Passionately condemning the Court’s likely alteration of the Roe ruling, critics are accusing the Court potentially of abdicating its responsibility to protect individual’s – in this case – woman’s rights, and opting to make their verdict not on established determination of law i.e. precedence, but on transient even self-serving political pressures.

Compelling images of coat hangers are reminding women and abortion supporters that the Court ruling will throw them back to unsafe means of terminating pregnancies, and once again push abortion devices underground.

Beneficiaries and soldiers of Women’s liberation, guided by the ‘my body is mine alone’ principle, are worried sick, wildly fearing that their uterus’s ownership will become a public rather than a private right. Never mind that the same women did not whimper of protest when the Woke forces openly threatened birthing and breastfeeding which were historically and biologically accepted as belonging exclusively to women, instead of replacing mothers with the ridiculously gender-neutral term ‘birthing parent’, and referring to breastfeeding as ‘chest-feeding’.

After readily surrendering women’s birthright of birthing, and breastfeeding children to politically correct gender neutrality, now claiming their bodily sanctity as non-negotiable seems hypocritical. So is the charge accusing the court of power-grabbing to tamper with the female’s anatomy and autonomy. The grabbing device has already been used by linguists and cross-genderists to challenge and modify the essentiality and exclusiveness of the female’s reproductive right – of giving birth to and breastfeeding children.

Overlooking their inconsistency, women and political luminaries are aggressively coming out against the impending opinion including Nancy Pelosi who, jointly with Senator Chuck Schumer, charged that the Court is poised to inflict the highest restriction of rights in the past fifty years – not just on women but on all Americans. Biden called the leaked opinion “quite a radical decision” and warned that it would threaten a whole range of rights connected to privacy. Letting the states make those decisions he felt would be a fundamental shift in what we have done, hence hoping that ultimately, there are not enough votes for it.

Others in droves are incensed with the policing of women’s bodies and are busy planning to exploit the politics underlying the issue of abortion’s legality and permissibility and tying it to their electoral prospects.

Whether or not, and if so, how far the mid-term elections will favor Biden and his party and to what extent the abortion ruling and its timing will impact the election’s outcome is uncertain. As the Hindi proverb goes, let us see which way the wind blows. But, if Biden wins the mid-term mandate on the burning issue of abortion, the ruling’s leak will turn out to be a well-chosen and well-timed distraction.

Image courtesy of (Image Courtesy: USA Today)

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