Carol Platt Liebau: Dishonest and Misleading

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dishonest and Misleading

Here she goes again. Kate Michelman, Head of the National Abortion Rights Action League, that is.

I sympathize with Ms. Michelman's plight all those years ago -- left pregnant, and deserted by her husband. That being said, her equating the requirement to obtain spousal consent for abortion with spousal notification (the legislation that Judge Alito found to be constitutional) is getting a little old. The two requirements are entirely different in scope and impact.

Most outrageously, Michelman attempts to slime Judge Alito by analogizing her situation to a Pennsylvania statute that he found to be constitutional under the Supreme Court precedent at the time. But her entire argument is incredibly dishonest, given that, as Chief Justice Rehnquist noted in his Casey dissent, there were numerous exceptions to even the spousal notification provisions at issue in the case Alito had ruled on:

A woman is not required to notify her husband if (1) her husband is not the father, (2) her husband, after diligent effort, cannot be located, (3) the pregnancy is the result of a spousal sexual assault that has been reported to the authorities, or (4) the woman has reason to believe that notifying her husband is likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury upon her by him or by another individual. In addition, a woman is exempted from the notification requirement in the case of a medical emergency. (citations omitted)

Given that these exceptions were part of the laws at issue, how could Michelman write the following:

The only women who would be burdened were all those left in the middle — women like me, women in extraordinary and individualized circumstances that neither laws nor legal standards could possibly anticipate.?

In fact, the Pennsylvania legislation before Judge Alito did, precisely, anticipate "extraordinary and individualized circumstances". And in any case, the Pennsylvania statute at issue required only that "woman must sign a statement indicating that she has notified her husband of her planned abortion", as the Chief Justice wrote. No proof required. Hardly tantamount to Michelman's nightmarish scenario of being subjected to an "invasive and humiliating interrogation before a hospital review board."

People at the LA Times Sunday Currents have shown me great kindness, and I like them -- but I'm surprised that an opinion piece this deeply misleading and fundamentally flawed made it into the pages of the LA Times.


Blogger filch said...

If there is no verification needed then it is simply so much busy work. How can anyone with half a brain justify such a thing? Or rather if the requirement means nothing, as exemplified by the lack of verification, then how can any conservative of any stripe advocate for such an intrusion of busywork/paperwork into a persons decision making process. I'd suggest that it is not the role of government to force any of us to fill out worthless paperwork no matter what the proposed purpose may be. As such this appears to be incredibly dishonest and should be avoided at all costs.

6:11 PM  
Blogger American by Choice said...


When I have to sign a document confirming I've done something - like to talk to my spouse about something really important to her - I think about it hard. That's all they were trying to have happen. That's good, conservative practice. Leave it to the individual and his/her conscience but give him/her a little prompt to do the right thing.

But the real issue is not the requirement, it is whether it was an 'undue burden', as indicated by O'Connor's prior opinion, by which Alito was bound. You should read his careful opinion. It's very convincing. Unfortunately, O'Connor then changed her mind!

5:36 AM  

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