Stunned, the Mississippi solicitor general has absolutely no answer for Justice Sonya Sotomayor's question about the religious motivation behind his state's restrictive anti-abortion law.
December 2, 2021

I've been screaming for years that Republican attempts to outlaw abortion is an infringement on my religious freedom as a Jew. It's an attempt to use Christianity to oppress pregnant people of all religions, but the GOP is trying to be very sneaky in how they couch these arguments. Sure, they're attempting to make it about "murder" and "taking a life" and "state interest" in protection. In truth, though, their justification lies wholly on the triangular foundation of sexism, white supremacy, and yes, Christianity. Those three pillars are so intrinsically co-dependent, it's intellectually dishonest to remove any of them from the list of motivations driving the forced-birth movement to overturn Roe v. Wade.

For the moment, though, and in this moment of questioning by Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, the focus is on religion. In discussing whether or not certain rights should be subject to "vigorous debate," she said of abortion rights, "Exactly, and that's what we're doing under undue burden, but we haven't been doing it on the viability line."

Stewart claimed, "Neither one has worked well. The viability line discounts and disregards state interests and the undue burden standard has all of the problems --" and that's when Sotomayor dropped the hammer.

"How is your interest anything but a religious view?" she asked him.

Sounding stunned, he could only answer, "Um --"

Sotomayor dug in.

"The issue of when life begins has been hotly debated by philosophers since the beginning of time. It's still debated in religions. So when you say this is the only right that takes away from the state the ability to protect a life, that's a religious view, isn't it?"

"Respectfully --" Stewart tried to interject, but Sotomayor was on a roll.

"It assumes that a fetus is life at -- when? You're not drawing -- when do you suggest we begin that life?" she challenged.

"Your honor, I -- aside from --"

Sotomayor said, "Putting it aside from religion?"

At that point, Stewart managed to string together some sentences, but they don't exactly answer her very pointed and relevant question.

"I'll try to -- I think there might be more than one question and do my very best, Justice Sotomayor," he began. "I think this court in Gonzalez pretty clearly recognized that before viability we are talking, with unborn life, with a human organism. I think the philosophical questions your honor mentioned, all those reasons, that they're hard, they've been debated and they're important, those are all reasons to return this to the people, because the people should get to debate these hard issues, and this court does not in that kind of a circumstance --"

So...we should just let people debate these hard things like when life begins and there's no need for a standard level of protection pregnant people can expect? Just, ya know, see what the opinion is of the folks around ya? What could possibly go wrong??? Sotomayor had had enough of that non-reasoning, and moved on.

"So, when does the life of a woman and putting her at risk enter the calculus?" she asked. "Meaning, right now, forcing women who are poor -- and that's 75% of the population -- and much higher percentage of those women in Mississippi who elect abortions before viability, they are put at a tremendously greater risk of medical complications and ending their life, 14 times greater, to give birth to a child full term than it is to have an abortion before viability. And now the state is saying to these women, 'We can choose not only to physically complicate your existence, put you at medical risk, make you poorer by the choice, because we believe...' what?"

Now, that's just cruel. Asking the Mississippi Solicitor General to account for considering a mother's risk in carrying a pregnancy to term? Her medical and economic considerations? Come on, now.

All sarcasm aside, He couldn't answer the question about religion, because the truthful answer is either one of the following:

  1. "Yes, that's true. It's a religious interest. See, apparently Jesus knows us the minute we were formed in the womb, which is not at all creepy!"
  2. "No, it's not a religious interest. It's misogyny. Not only do we want you ladies not to have control over staying pregnant, we also don't want you to have control over getting pregnant, what with our objections to birth control! It's not even about abortion. We just don't like you girls to enjoy the sex the way we menz get to." And/or,
  3. "Nope. Not religion. Racism. See, if we can keep all the Black and brown folks from access to abortion (and other healthcare,) then we get to keep them poor, too, and BONUS we get to blame them for their economic situation, too!"

So, I guess I can understand why his answer was so asinine.

But christ on a bicycle, was it satisfying to hear her shut him down on that point. So damn much of it IS about religion. I know this from the freaks who protest and harass people outside the clinics where I escort patients. It's ALL about religion. It's ONLY about religion.

Well, guess what? In Judaism, abortion is not only permissible, it's required if the pregnant person's life is at risk. In Judaism, the teachings are so humanity-based that if the pregnant person is in serious emotional distress because of the pregnancy, that's considered a legitimate "risk." You see, the mother's well-being — physical and emotional — is paramount, from the moment of conception until the moment the baby's head emerges from the womb. In Judaism, the fetus doesn't even acquire its SOUL until it's born, motherf*ckers.

Don't try to exert your Christian authoritarian control over my Jewish body and pretend it's Constitutional. As far as I can tell, we still have that first amendment.

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