Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to the Dark Ages

Justice Scalia caused a bit of a ruckus with his assertion that the Constitution does not protect women from discrimination.  This is not a new position for the Supreme Court Justice.  Back in 1996, he was the sole dissenter from a ruling which ended the 157-year-old all-male tradition at Virginia Military Institute.  Scalia's disturbing view is still (for now) a minority position on the Court and certainly far outside the legal mainstream.  (His statements were handily rebutted by  Marcia Greenberger of the National Women's Law Center and Yale law professor Jack Balkin.)  However, Scalia is hardly an outlier among Republicans when it comes to disparaging women's rights.

New Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is a committed right-to-lifer, who as Mother Jones reports in The GOP's New Abortion Agenda, "has repeatedly emphasized his continued commitment to anti-abortion legislation."  Then there is Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Pitts, the new chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, who the New York Times referred to as a "leading Congressional opponent of abortion rights."  The selection of Pitts, according to the Times, "presages a major shift on abortion and family planning."

The Mother Jones article details the Republican Party's top goals:  "enshrine tough restrictions on abortion funding into federal law and defund Planned Parenthood."  It also notes that there are still anti-abortion Democrats willing to go along.  The question, as always, is whether the rest of the Democrats in Congress and the President are willing to stand up and fight for women's reproductive health care.


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