Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is widely considered to be the most important Supreme Court Case on abortion in nearly three decades. We want you to understand what’s happening in real-time and equip you with tools to discuss it effectively. ERI staff members Josh Brahm, Andrew Kaake, and Emily Albrecht listened live to the oral arguments, and went live the next evening to share their perspectives and answer your questions! This is the case everyone will be talking about, so prepare yourself to have productive dialogues about it!
Sara Winter grew up around violence and drugs; now she lives with her son in a loving home. She used to protest naked in front of churches; now she says that feminists should learn from religious women. Once Brazil’s most famous feminist, Winter is now a recognized pro-life activist in Latin America.
What brought about this change? She changed her mind, in part, because of her personal experiences with abortion and the contrast between the transactional relationships of her feminist “allies” and the tangible care for her from her pro-life “enemies.”
The University of California is beginning a study into public demand for “missed-period pills.” The pills are just misoprostol—half of the typical chemical abortion regimen—and what they are designed to do is procure a chemical abortion without the woman needing to know whether or not she’s pregnant. In other words, it’s either a chemical abortion or an unnecessary, unindicated medical intervention, but the patient doesn’t have to know which one.
Of note: the investigation seems to presuppose the rightness of providing the pills. The only questions the researchers seem to care about are: 1) will it effectively abort human embryos; and 2) will women purchase this, especially women who might not otherwise get an abortion. In other words, they want to help women who might be uncomfortable with abortion feel better by never knowing whether or not they were actually pregnant when they took the pill. It is, after all, just a pill for your “missed period.” The lead researcher, quoted in the linked article, hopes that the pills would be a simple prescription, able to be picked up at a pharmacy, in order to assure endemic abortion access.
These pills are an ethical nightmare. “Missed-period pills” violate multiple bioethical norms, and not just because elective abortion is wrongful killing. The pills are designed to promote and cater to cowardly ethical decision-making, all the while promoting a potentially less-safe form of abortion.
In our discussions as pro-life advocates about abortion, we often run into bodily autonomy arguments. These maintain that, because people have a right to control what happens to or in their bodies, or—at the very least—have the right to refuse to allow someone else to use their bodies, abortion must be permitted. These positions are usually oversimplified as the assertion “my body, my choice.”
ERI has already substantially discussed bodily autonomy arguments within the Equipped for Life Course, as well as in several blog posts and videos. As such, this article will not focus on understanding and responding to bodily autonomy arguments generally. Instead, before campus outreach begins again, I want to prepare you to navigate the discussion about bodily autonomy in light of the controversies about COVID-19 masks and vaccine mandates. While often framed as an instance of inconsistency among pro-choice or pro-life individuals, the differing positions about mask/vaccine mandates actually highlights an important point of common ground and clarification in our discussions of bodily autonomy.
If someone brings up mask/vaccine mandates in your conversations, you should first take a beat to remind yourself to practice charitable interpretation. Remember why the different positions on mask/vaccine mandates might seem at odds with someone’s position on abortion. Then, respond by highlighting the common ground that the mask/vaccine mandates reveal about most people’s positions on the limits of bodily autonomy and transition the discussion back to abortion. I will discuss each of these steps more fully below.