On Behalf of Unborn Women Lawyers


To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion.” That’s the opening line of an amicus brief filed in the United States Supreme Court regarding Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case to be heard this term to decide the constitutionality of a Texas law applicable to abortion facilities. A group of 113 female attorneys joined together to share how much more successful and happier they are now, because they had abortions.

I am a woman and an attorney. I have never had an abortion. However, needless to say, this story piqued my interest, and I felt the need to file a “reply brief.”

This is not an easy topic to discuss. Emotions rise and tempers flare on both sides of the aisle. It is almost impossible to have a productive conversation around this issue. Yet it’s worth trying.  Never is the role of advocate more important than when speaking up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.

The case. In short, two provisions of a Texas law applicable to abortion facilities are contested. One provision requires that the physician performing the abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. The other requires that abortion facilities meet the standard for ambulatory surgical centers. The state argues that it has a legitimate interest in protecting women’s health.  The petitioners argue that the law unnecessarily restricts women’s access to abortions. Oral arguments are scheduled for March 2, 2016.

The amicus brief.  Over 100 women lawyers joined together to support the pro-choice position.  Each woman has had an abortion at some point in her life.  The brief consists primarily of women’s stories.  In most of the stories, a woman asserts that having the child would have prevented her from finishing school or would have prevented her from having the legal career that she envisioned.

A few things came to mind after reading this brief:

  1. Adoption.  There is no focus on the possibility of adoption.  I can understand that some of the women may not have felt capable of parenthood at the time.  However, there is no discussion or recognition of the fact that adoption is an option.  This would have allowed the women to be “unrestrained” in their career path and would have protected the unborn child, but this does not seem to have been considered.
  2. Devaluing Womanhood. To me, this issue is a perfect example of the feminist contradiction. Feminists see the ability to become pregnant as a hindrance to personal success and socioeconomic equality. Men never have to face this obstacle, and therefore, neither should women. This perspective, however, disregards womanhood. Instead of celebrating femininity, they resent one of the most innate, beautiful aspects of it.
  3. Self-Focused Feminism. As discussed in a prior post, the modern feminist movement encourages women to value themselves and their own desires above all else.  In this case, most of these women are putting their desire for a successful career over someone else’s life.  Many women come to regret abortions, and my heart goes out to them. I cannot imagine the heartache associated with that. What I find so troublesome about this amicus brief is the implication that women should have no qualms about placing billable hours over babies if the timing is not ideal.
  4. Unborn Women Lawyers. These 113 women claim that they have added value to society through their practice of law. They argue how unfair it would have been had they not had the chance to become attorneys. In response to that point, consider the following: Since 1973, the year that Roe v. Wade was decided, there have been well over 58 million abortions.  I wonder how many of those little girls would have grown up to be lawyers? And how much more good could have been done in the world?

I do not mean to dismiss the hardships (emotional, financial, or otherwise) that these women would have undoubtedly faced had they chosen to keep or to give away their babies. That is not something to ignore or to minimize and that is not my intention. On balance, however, life wins.  There are many women who have had children before, during, and after law school.  While this may present difficulties, it does not prevent women from becoming attorneys.

The purpose of this post is not to analyze the legal arguments of this case. Rather, these are thoughts to consider as you write your own opinion on the topic. The amicus brief and the media around it suggest that female attorneys should be proud and empowered by this compilation of stories. I thought another viewpoint necessary. These 113 female attorneys have made their voices heard loud and clear. Before you rule, I simply ask you to consider the deafening silence of those not given the chance.

 

8 Comments

Debbie
Reply February 3, 2016

Stephanie,
Thank you for your kind & thoughtful observation about the fact that (in this country) the unborn child has very few "rights." You are so "spot on" when you mention the 58 million babies who have died in this country,due to abortion,and how some of them would have indeed became lawyers,had they been allowed to live. Our greatest resource is our people,yet we throw away millions of lives,because they might be a hindrance or bother to us.Many forget about the fact that we also have the "right "to plan ahead & use birth control as a means to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
Thank you for being bold enough to speak out for all those babies that have no voice in their own futures.It really was/is the right thing to do,and I applaud you for defending the innocents.

    Stephanie
    Reply February 4, 2016

    Thank you, Debbie! We focus so much on "women's rights" that the babies' rights are completely ignored. You also raise an important point about birth control and the need to be responsible and accountable for choices. Unfortunately, this issue has become so sensitive that there's little productive discussion about it anymore - thank you for participating in the conversation!

Emilie
Reply February 3, 2016

Stephanie ... like Debbie, I applaud you for speaking up for those 58 million babies, whose lives were snuffed out because of selfishness. Some day those woman will pass on ... and stand before God ... I know we are all sinners, but taking a life is way beyond the realm of my understanding. Thanks Steph, great material!!

    Stephanie
    Reply February 4, 2016

    Thanks for your thoughts, Emilie! This is such a heartbreaking issue - I hope that our society soon reawakens to the magnitude of these losses.

Tori
Reply February 3, 2016

Stephanie,
Thank you again for a lovely post. I agree in the requirements of the admitting privileges of a physician in a 30 minute radius of the facility and that the facility be equivalent to a same day surgery. As a Labor and Delivery Nurse for 10 years, I have seen many scary things happen to women in labor and during delivery due to complications. I have transfused many women with blood that might not have made it more than 30 minutes without a transfusion. I do, however, side with a woman's right to choose. I have seen many wonderful and beautiful adoptions in my 10years of welcoming life into this world. I have also seen many women have to quit their jobs and/or be "let go" due to difficulties arising from pregnancy. If these 113 students and/or lawyers would have been one of these women, the only thing allowing them to achieve their goals would have been abortion. I do not put the value of their law degree above the value of life, however I do value their choices. Men never have to bear the consequence of an "oops", that is left solely on the woman's shoulders. I also believe that women who have goals should practice birth control to ensure they never have to make a difficult decision like these women. I have delivered many babies that birth control did not deter their conception, so it doesn't always work. I am very much in the grey area when it comes to pro-choice vs pro-life, but I do not believe these requirements that Texas is asking for will limit the "access to care" for women desiring an abortion and therefore agree in this instance. As always Stephanie, much love and respect to you!

    Stephanie
    Reply February 4, 2016

    Hi, Tori! You have a very unique perspective having been a labor and delivery nurse for several years - this is such a tough issue. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughtful and very important viewpoint!

Tedi
Reply February 4, 2016

There is little more to be said after reading your very thoughtful post on this highly controversial topic, Steph. The 113 women who spoke up on the impact their babies probably would have had on their professional lives, have now put themselves in the position to be challenged to think about this from a different perspective. I hope they do think about it, if for no other reason than to be fair and balanced personally. I hope this reflection comes to them while they are by themselves and there is no possibility of publicity, in the quiet of the night. Did their decision do more harm to our society than the inconvenience of carrying their baby to term? What else will we, as a nation, feel justified in doing in order to meet our professional or personal goals? I hope your comments will be read and considered. Thank you for causing us all to think.

    Stephanie
    Reply February 7, 2016

    Thanks so much for your thoughts, Tedi! You raise a really good point - what else will we justify as a society to further professional and worldly success? Where will we draw the line? I hope people will thoughtfully consider the answer to that.

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