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Pro-choice argument in Dobbs: It’s all about liberty. Anti-maskers agree, sort of

·2 min read
Associated Press file photos

My non-lawyer’s view of the oral arguments the Supreme Court heard on Wednesday is that the justices made me think of those family holiday dinners where everyone wants to talk about something different, and keeps trying to pull the conversation back to that thing he said 15 minutes ago. As at dinner, some made more sense than others.

The consensus of those who cover the high court is that abortion rights just got thrown in the dryer, and are either going to shrink a lot, or even more than that. If Roe v. Wade survives at all, it will only be so it can die another day.

The pro-Roe argument put before the Supremes on Wednesday really was not just familiar, but jarringly similar to the anti-mask and anti-vaccine talking points we’ve been hearing for the last 21 months.

Justice Clarence Thomas asked those arguing against the Mississippi law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks: “If I were to ask you what constitutional right protects the right to abortion, is it privacy? Is it autonomy? What would it be?”

New York attorney Julie Rikelman answered him this way: “It’s liberty. … It’s the textual protection in the 14th Amendment that a state can’t deprive a person of liberty without due process of law.”

Those anti-mask protesters carrying “My body, my choice” posters have been saying that, too.

They’ve been saying it mockingly, of course.

But the case for liberty, as argued by the anti-mask, anti-vaccine crowd, makes clear that their own liberty is all that matters: No, I will not wear a piece of paper over my face during a pandemic to protect the lives of loved ones and strangers, because that’s way too much to ask.

A preteen rape victim, though, should bear her attacker’s child, because that abridgment of liberty is not too much to ask.

What about the child’s interest in existing, Justice Samuel Alito asked those arguing against the Mississippi law. The answer he got was that the rights of the unborn have always begun where the woman’s rights ended, at viability.

When it comes to public health measures, though, the rights of even the most vulnerable people to live free of unnecessary exposure to a potentially fatal virus apparently never kick in for anti-maskers.

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