Do you know what’s missing from the ‘Dobbs’ opinion? Women.

The Supreme Court has officially overturned Roe v. calfand as the minority dissent states: “One outcome of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights and their status as free and equal citizens.”

In this context, it should be shocking that Judge Samuel Alito’s opinion makes little mention of women.

The language of the report makes it absolutely clear – the lives of women are not important to this court. Women are hardly mentioned in Alito’s opinion. Control over our bodies and the ability to live our lives on our own terms is both the purpose and result of this choice, but it doesn’t deserve much analysis. Alito neatly launches the idea that lifting a precedent banning abortion would have an impact on women. He notes that the abortion rule “does not create shameful discrimination” against women because women have protections from discrimination at work based on pregnancy, women have access to unpaid leave to have a child, women vote more than men, and health insurance does covers costs for pregnancy and childbirth.

That’s it. That’s the entire argument in this earth-shattering opinion on how it will affect women.

Sixteen pages discuss the “animation” and historical understanding of when a fetus is “viable,” or capable of surviving outside the womb. Ultimately, Alito disregards the relevance of when the fetus is viable to the decision, stating, “If, as Roe suggested, a state’s interest in protecting prenatal life ‘after viability’ is compelling, 410 US, at 163, why is isn’t that so? Interest “as compelling as viability.”

Here’s the secret – women’s lives are at no point compelling for the state celebrating this decision. The United States ranks worst among the ten developed nations for maternal welfare and mortality, but Judge Alito touches on this only briefly, reflecting on why “mortality rates were the only factor a state could legitimately consider.” to limit abortions in the first trimester. The death of women is not a factor worth considering by this court.

“Yes, there are anti-discrimination provisions, but these do not prevent discrimination against women, they only give women legal protection when they are discriminated against.”

As an attorney representing pregnant women and mothers who face discrimination in the workplace every day in progressive upstate New York, and as a mother of four who has spent this pandemic wondering why this country wants to punish me for the fact that I created something of his next generation, that opinion makes my body tense with anger. Let’s talk about the real protection that provides such comfort to Alito, the Supreme Court, and all Republicans in Congress that women can easily assert their rights at their state’s ballot box (assuming they have access to one).

Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy and gender. Yes, there are anti-discrimination provisions, but these do not prevent discrimination against women, they only give women legal protection when they are discriminated against. I say “some” reparations because in order to prove discrimination, women have to show that they were fired because of their pregnancy. This means that once a pregnant woman loses her job, she must not only focus on creating and sustaining human life, but she must also fight for her rights.

Looking for evidence that pregnant women still face discrimination in the workplace? You need look no further than the currently stalled effort in Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This law would guarantee pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodation during pregnancy unless this would cause undue hardship for the employer. This means pregnant women can take breaks, sit instead of stand, carry less and may be allowed to work from home if it doesn’t “impose an unreasonable burden” on the employer. (If the rights of pregnant women are already so protected, why would this bill be necessary and why has it stalled in the Senate?)

Of course, women continue to be discriminated against after childbirth and are responsible for keeping their child alive. In the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic, female labor force participation fell to its lowest level in decades. Women are still the primary caregivers of their children, resulting in a decline in their income over the course of their careers.

The USA is still the only developed country in the world without paid family leave. The Family Sick Leave Act, the only federal law that grants parents 12 weeks of unpaid “protected” leave, only applies to 23 percent of workers. Twelve weeks is far less than what experts recommend for women to recover from childbirth and learn how to keep their child alive after birth. Those 12 weeks may also need to be used to cover doctor’s appointments and other pregnancy-related time off before the birth.

Many states have moved to increase paid family leave, but Judge Alito’s argument that women are denied abortions because of their legal protections is both ridiculous and intellectually dishonest. Look no further than the stalled FAMILY Act in Congress, which would expand leave entitlements and provide some payment to mothers who must take leave.

The cost of medical care related to pregnancy is covered by insurance or government grants. Well, yes, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has ensured that insurance companies cannot deny benefits based on the “pre-existing condition” of a pregnancy. Although nursing is said to be covered, pregnant women and women who have just given birth are routinely billed tens of thousands of dollars for childbirth. Access to health insurance also does not protect women from death during pregnancy and childbirth, especially women of color. In fact, the mortality rate of black mothers continues to rise. Access to health insurance does not prevent death, does not provide families with compensation when their beloved mother or wife dies due to pregnancy, and does not stop women from incurring huge bills.

Through Dobbs, the court tells us clearly that women’s lives do not matter. There is much to be done to ensure women are safe and respected in this country. Now is the time to get involved in any way you can. Do you know what’s missing from the ‘Dobbs’ opinion? Women.


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